SkyStillSunny

Not Sued Yet, but should I respond to this letter?

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I've read different opinions about disputing or not when receiving threats to sue. The attached letter is from a law firm for a CC for around $1K, and I honestly can't recall this account, but it very well could be valid. Should I go ahead and dispute to get the paperwork, or just let them go ahead and proceed to sue? Is there a benefit/disadvantage to either? I've been able to get through a few of these cases and got them dismissed in court, and I had another in which I settled (Bank of America). I've never responded to the initial certified letter though, but I'm thinking maybe this time I should?

redacted-attorney-letter.pdf

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I say no, since I firmly believe they mark you as a "found and verified" debtor in their system when you do. Everyone else thinks I'm nuts. Ultimately we've seen it go both ways, so it probably doesn't matter.

 

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16 minutes ago, SkyStillSunny said:

I've read different opinions about disputing or not when receiving threats to sue. The attached letter is from a law firm for a CC for around $1K, and I honestly can't recall this account, but it very well could be valid. Should I go ahead and dispute to get the paperwork, or just let them go ahead and proceed to sue? Is there a benefit/disadvantage to either? I've been able to get through a few of these cases and got them dismissed in court, and I had another in which I settled (Bank of America). I've never responded to the initial certified letter though, but I'm thinking maybe this time I should?

redacted-attorney-letter.pdf

Where did they threaten to sue?

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Oh sorry, I'm just assuming. I've gotten these same types of letters from Cooling & Winter and also Greene & Cooper, and they've always eventually served me. I just figured this would be the same, however this is a different firm this time.

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51 minutes ago, SkyStillSunny said:

Oh sorry, I'm just assuming. I've gotten these same types of letters from Cooling & Winter and also Greene & Cooper, and they've always eventually served me.

It will be the same.  If you DV L&J I can speak from experience with them back during the recession they will respond with a year's worth of statements on the account.  I can't say how long currently but back in 2009 it took them over a year to respond to my DV.  Nothing came of it because I moved out of GA to another state.  L&J sent me a second dunning letter after they had responded to the DV in the new state and when I responded with another letter stating they were welcome to come to [new residence state] and sue me I would respond otherwise don't contact me again.  Never heard from the or the JDB again.

Google them.  Their reputation is no better than Cooling and Winter or Green and Cooper.  L&J used to make their legal "fees" suing senior citizen home owners for supposed HOA violations then foreclosing on their homes.  Their reputation is not good.  When the recession hit GA HARD and foreclosure was nothing L&J lost a LOT of business so they switched to debt collection for junk debt buyers.  They will sue.  They are VERY fond of suddenly levying bank accounts where a consumer wakes to find all their money gone.  Most common adjectives used describing them are deceptive and dishonest.  DO NOT trust them.

 

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2 hours ago, SkyStillSunny said:

Oh sorry, I'm just assuming. I've gotten these same types of letters from Cooling & Winter and also Greene & Cooper, and they've always eventually served me. I just figured this would be the same, however this is a different firm this time.

If you send a timely validation request, they can’t sue until they validate.  Well, they could sue before validating, but they’d violate the FDCPA by doing so.

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I would send a DV/dispute letter.  Note that they are representing a JDB, Unifund, not the OC.  You never know, they might violate, or decide it's not worth it to mess with a consumer who knows their rights.    It will cause some delay, which is always good, in my opinion.  And you can look at it as pre-lawsuit discovery, to see what they actually have.

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1 hour ago, nobk4me said:

You never know, they might violate, or decide it's not worth it to mess with a consumer who knows their rights. 

Unlikely and impossible.

 

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3 hours ago, nobk4me said:

And you can look at it as pre-lawsuit discovery, to see what they actually have.

Except in response to a DV, they always wisely send the bare minimum response of "the amount owed is $xx and the original creditor was yy",  and never send anything remotely resembling Discovery. 

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On 10/16/2018 at 3:16 PM, SkyStillSunny said:

Oh sorry, I'm just assuming. I've gotten these same types of letters from Cooling & Winter and also Greene & Cooper, and they've always eventually served me. I just figured this would be the same, however this is a different firm this time.

That type of attorney letter is essentially what a local law firm sends out as an initial correspondence after the debt buyer has passed the account off to them for suit.  Although it doesn't explicitly say anything about any intent to sue, it should be treated as a notice of intent to sue.

You could request validation.  You could also mention that the plaintiff's claims are subject to arbitration (if they are) and request concurrence to arbitrate the claims pursuant to the agreement.

They probably will ignore any such correspondence, but doing so is effectively refusing to arbitrate.

Some here have recommended, upon receipt of a letter like this, to beat them to the court house by initiating an arbitration action before they sue.  Others here say not to do this because doing so is essentially "suing yourself".  You'll have to read the old threads and decide for yourself, taken together with other information such as the amount involved, who the original creditor is, and the terms of the arbitration agreement.

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20 hours ago, Harry Seaward said:

Except in response to a DV, they always wisely send the bare minimum response of "the amount owed is $xx and the original creditor was yy",  and never send anything remotely resembling Discovery. 

I recall in the past, sometimes they sent me a number of account statements.

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On 11/6/2018 at 9:33 PM, SkyStillSunny said:

Ok, so this firm actually responded quite quickly and just sent a bunch of account statements. So I guess now I just wait until I get served or they proceed to sue?

Use the time waiting to do research.  Arbitration is your best bet against a JDB for a debt this small.

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I haven't seen the ol' Lasagna guys for a while.

The most important thing here is that I WOULD IMMEDIATELY FILE ARBITRATION.  Your OC is CitiBank which has a "small claims exception".  Depending on the date of default your card agreement either has JAMS or AAA in it.  I would file NOW before being sued to avoid any extra hassle.

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25 minutes ago, fisthardcheese said:

I haven't seen the ol' Lasagna guys for a while.

The most important thing here is that I WOULD IMMEDIATELY FILE ARBITRATION.  Your OC is CitiBank which has a "small claims exception".  Depending on the date of default your card agreement either has JAMS or AAA in it.  I would file NOW before being sued to avoid any extra hassle.

Why file now instead of waiting to be sued?  You usually advise to wait until sued. 

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3 hours ago, BV80 said:

Why file now instead of waiting to be sued?  You usually advise to wait until sued. 

I usually do, however, this is the ONE perfect storm where I strongly recommend filing NOW for the following reasons:  OP is in Georgia where these collectors will file in Magistrate Court.  While technically not "small claims", it can and has been considered small claims by many judges.  OP has a Citi card agreement which has the worst "small claims exception" language in it.  So in this type of situation ONLY is when I strongly suggest filing the arbitration before the other side can file the lawsuit.

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Default was in 2016, so I found the Citibank - AT&T Universal Card cc agreement, and it does have an arbitration clause in it for AAA.

What do you mean by "small claims exception" @fisthardcheese? Do you mean if I wait for them to sue, then they can bypass arbitration? 

I will go ahead and file with AAA, however, I have no MTC so I'll just submit the cc agreement, but other than than I have no other claim against them. I guess I'll just initially say it's a billing dispute? And the CC agreement does say that they will be the arbitration fees up to 75,000 so I should mention that in my claim and shouldn't have to pay anything up front.

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10 minutes ago, SkyStillSunny said:

What do you mean by "small claims exception"

Does your agreement's arb section have this language?

"Arbitration limits

• Individual Claims filed in a small claims court are not subject to arbitration, as long as the matter stays in small claims court."

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When you file an arbitration claim, just think of it as if you are suing the other side.  You don't need permission from a court first before suing.  A "Billing dispute" is fine, as the claim can be pretty generic or basic at the start.  I would try to find something else a little more substantial.  You can also state "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) violations" as a generic claim as well and if you find that one never pans out with a concrete violation, you can remove it and amend your claims any time you want before an arbitrator is assigned to the case (and after one is assigned you can amend with permission from the arbitrator, who almost always will allow it).

Also, I would never mention fees in the demand.  I always just include a cover letter when sending in everything and my letter is short and sweet, stating that I am filing a CONSUMER arbitration and that the contract states the Respondent will pay the consumer's portion of the fees, so I ask AAA to bill the Claimaint's portion of the filing fee to the Respondent.

With AAA you can file by email. I always just fill out the demand form and scan a copy and then attach the PDF of the Demand and the Card Agreement as well as my cover letter to an email.  The email address to file in at the bottom of the Demand form.  That is my preferred method.  I would still send a hard copy by mail of everything I send to AAA (including the cover letter) to the Unifund attorney listed in the letter (Mr. Lasagna).

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HELP. I did file arbitration before they L&J sued me. I received my letter from AAA about the arbitration the day before I got a package mailed to me from Lazega and Johanson (they didn't serve me, but sent a letter in the mail regarding their court filing which I thought was weird), but in AAA's response it states this:

Quote

In light of the claim amount under $3000, the parties may wish to exercise the small claims option for the parties. R-9 of the Consumer Rules states the AAA will administratively close the case upon receipt of written notice that a party wants the case decided by a small claims court. If either party would like this matter decided by a small claims court, please send your written request to the Consumer Filing Team and copy the opposing party.

Does this mean that L&J can request to have this matter solved in small claims instead of through arbitration if they send in a written request? I was thinking if I went ahead and started AAA, that I would have to right to do this through arbitration... Thoughts anyone?

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UGH... I got served officially now by L&J. They sent me a letter and replied back to AAA (based on the wording above) that they want to pursue this in small claims.

Do I still have a shot at arbitration? Should I file in my answer that I filed for arbitration first? Or should I call AAA and ask them that per my agreement I'm allowed to pursue this in arbitration. Shoot... not sure what to do. Can anyone advise?

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13 hours ago, SkyStillSunny said:

Do I still have a shot at arbitration?

Yes, but you will have to get a motion to compel approved by the court to enforce the arbitration case.

13 hours ago, SkyStillSunny said:

Should I file in my answer that I filed for arbitration first?

I would.  Basically you are going to have to argue your contractual rights to have the case heard in the arbitration forum.  Unfortunately this is the downside to filing in AAA first.  There is no case law that them choosing to pursue this in court despite filing for arbitration is an FDCPA violation.  You might want to speak to a couple of consumer attorneys.  One might be willing to take the case on contingency and be the first test case.

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Leave AAA out of it for now.  Just follow the normal steps on responding to the lawsuit.  File an answer with the affirmative defense of lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to an arbitration agreement.

Do not bother filing an MTC ahead of time if you are in Magistrate Court.  Just bring 3 copies of it, along with 3 copies of the card agreement to your court date.  You will meet with the attorney before hand when they call your name.  At this time, present the MTC to them and let them know you will be asking the judge for private arbitration per the contract.

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What would I say if L&J argue that the letter AAA states that they are allowed to pursue this in small claims? Just stick to what the contract states that I have a right to arbitration? Because in the Citibank agreement, there is a note that says:

Quote

Arbitration limits

Individual Claims filed in a small claims court are not subject to arbitration, as long as the matter stays in small claims court.

If L&J don't agree to private arbitration, then we go to trial, and if the judge denies my MTC because of the statement above, what would you do?

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