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AnonJ

Just need a little validation/advice in Georgia -Midland

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Today I had court in Georgia after being sued by Midland for $948.  They attempted to sue me in April 2018 in the wrong county and then served me in the right one January 2019.  In the time between, I attempted to contact Midland and sent their attorney a letter from doctor stating I'm disabled and it's unlikely to change with no collectable income. They were unsympathetic, despite what is written on their own website. Following the advice I read here, I comprised a demand letter and motion to compel arbitration. I handed it to the attorney in the hallway this morning. He claimed not to have a copy of the contract so I handed him one too.  He basically talked to me like I was an idiot and said I wasn't going to get a better outcome that a payment plan with a judgement on my record. He stomped back into court.  While we waited , there was a case involving a motor vehicle accident similar to my own. This man (victim) was being ripped to shreds and it was difficult to watch knowing what it's like to be so overwhelmed by the pain and loss of sudden disability when all you want is your normal life back. Anyway, I also was getting over the flu so I started to feel teary.  The judge calls us up and I state I'd like to assert arbitration. He sends us to mediation. The opposing attorney whips out a letter they first sent me to the wrong address.  They then try to get me to agree to a judgement again so we go back to the court.  The judge was kind and did ask specifics about how I was served in the wrong county initially, currently have no collectable income due to disability, and as of mid March, I have no permanent address. He stared at the attorney  and asked him it he has a copy of this letter from my doctor and he said he did but was unwilling to budge. Attorney tried to say I didn't answer the complaint (wrong) then tried to say Midland isn't subject to the arbitration clause. The judge said I might be making a mistake and may not like the outcome, but it's my right to ask for it. I said if it's all the same, I'd like arbitration . Midland mumbled under his breath that it's not all the same. Just granted a stay and had the clerk do a motion to compel on their own form. I feel like I completely screwed up but I can't make it that much worse. I'm scared to even leave this up long because the attorney seemed really pissed.

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1 hour ago, AnonJ said:

I'm scared to even leave this up long because the attorney seemed really pissed.

Sounds almost like attorney is on thin ice and was told to get a judgement or he'll be out on the street. Makes no sense that he'd be so adamant about a case like yours. You did fine - sounds like the judge will grant the motion to compel and Midland will go away for good.

 

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1 hour ago, AnonJ said:

I feel like I completely screwed up but I can't make it that much worse.

You did everything you were supposed to do.  You didn't screw anything up.

1 hour ago, AnonJ said:

I'm scared to even leave this up long because the attorney seemed really pissed.

What law firm was this?

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1 hour ago, Clydesmom said:

You did everything you were supposed to do.  You didn't screw anything up.

What law firm was this?

Emmett Goodman. They all just kept acting like I was stupid for not taking the payment plan consent judgement. Maybe I am but I didn't see why I should make it easier on them. The attorney was snotty enough to go through with arbitration just to spite me it seems even if it ends up costing them more. 

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Just now, AnonJ said:

They all just kept acting like I was stupid for not taking the payment plan consent judgement.

Of course they did.  A payment plan is way easier for them.

2 minutes ago, AnonJ said:

Maybe I am but I didn't see why I should make it easier on them.

NO WHERE in GA law or consumer law does it require you to make it easier for them.

2 minutes ago, AnonJ said:

The attorney was snotty enough to go through with arbitration just to spite me it seems even if it ends up costing them more.

Actually the attorney does not make the choice Midland does. While they may have agreed to it at the moment when they get the first bill for it they will fold.   To date Midland has not completed arbitration on one case.

3 minutes ago, AnonJ said:

Emmett Goodman.

He is not who I thought you might be dealing with.  Nothing more than a professional creditor attorney and has a bad reputation to boot.  Use Google and you will see.

Since he is a solo practitioner it is possible he gets paid only when they collect which would explain his aggressiveness in pushing you to settle.

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5 minutes ago, Clydesmom said:

Of course they did.  A payment plan is way easier for them.

NO WHERE in GA law or consumer law does it require you to make it easier for them.

Actually the attorney does not make the choice Midland does. While they may have agreed to it at the moment when they get the first bill for it they will fold.   To date Midland has not completed arbitration on one case.

He is not who I thought you might be dealing with.  Nothing more than a professional creditor attorney and has a bad reputation to boot.  Use Google and you will see.

Since he is a solo practitioner it is possible he gets paid only when they collect which would explain his aggressiveness in pushing you to settle.

That makes sense. It wasn't actually Goodman in court, but another attorney under him. There was a lady he was speaking with as well. They went out into the hall to talk after I mentioned the MTC and it looks like he tried to find a different contract. I'm guessing he called the office during that time. The order is entered. I just checked. So I apply for JAMS and hope for the best at this point, correct ?

 Thanks again for all the responses. It's been an emotional day. Things are kind of falling apart as they have been for a while. When the judge asked me about the disability stuff, he even made the comment that "while this is bad, it's really the least of your worries right now isn't it?" He made a comment about how he couldn't even garnish worker's comp but it didn't seem to phase him . I guess he hopes he can do something against my car or if I ever can work again .

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59 minutes ago, AnonJ said:

The order is entered. I just checked. So I apply for JAMS and hope for the best at this point, correct ?

Correct.  File with JAMS so that he cannot take you back into court stating you were not serious.

59 minutes ago, AnonJ said:

When the judge asked me about the disability stuff, he even made the comment that "while this is bad, it's really the least of your worries right now isn't it?" He made a comment about how he couldn't even garnish worker's comp but it didn't seem to phase him .

Which county is this in?  In the larger counties like Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton the Magistrates are like that:  intelligent and reasonable applying the law(s) correctly not at their whim.  My guess is the Judge is not impressed with him refusing to drop it knowing they cannot collect.

59 minutes ago, AnonJ said:

I guess he hopes he can do something against my car or if I ever can work again .

Nope.  The costs out weigh the benefits.  Unless the consumer is driving a high end car that is paid off there is no value in seizing it.  The court costs to get the order, towing, storage, auction fees, and the state mandated exemption you are entitled to make it not worth it.  We have only seen one person that I can remember who lost their car to seizure and that was in FL.  They paid off their vehicle loan with the last payment and literally within 2 weeks of that the creditor seized the car. The car had a blue book value of $9k and the creditor had a judgment for about half making seizing it very much worth it.

Going back to the hardship:  did you only approach the law firm or did you go direct to Midland?

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16 minutes ago, Clydesmom said:

 

Which county is this in?  In the larger counties like Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton the Magistrates are like that:  intelligent and reasonable applying the law(s) correctly not at their whim.  My guess is the Judge is not impressed with him refusing to drop it knowing they cannot collect.

Going back to the hardship:  did you only approach the law firm or did you go direct to Midland?

You're so knowledgeable. It's helpful having a sounding board. My car is definitely not high value and won't be paid off until next year. It was Cobb county. The judge was definitely more compassionate than I was expecting, even in the other cases I was overhearing . I used to work in a different court and I know the attitude of the judge can make a huge difference in pro se cases.  My only concern was when he was like " I'm not sure you'll get better outcome in arbitration" but then he went on to get into the disability questions basically stating to the attorney that I couldn't be garnished right now. 

I actually approached both at different times. My first knowledge of Midland was when they tried to sue me at my cousin's house in Cherokee county 5 months after I moved to Cobb. They apparently had sent a letter to me at my address prior to Cherokee residence when I wasn't living there either. I was living in Cobb for a year before they filed here. During that time, I reached out to Midland to ask them about what they had on their website regarding disability. They stated the attorney would have to contact me . After I was served in Cobb, I contacted Goodman and they requested a note from my doctor which I embarrassingly acquired. In the end, it didn't make a difference to them and they proceeded to court. In court , the judge asked the attorney if they had record of the letter and he said they did. It was about the only thing he didn't try to deny knowledge or responsibility of. That's when the judge asked him if he was sure he wasn't willing to drop it. Attorney responded with " I have my marching orders." So the judge instructed the clerk to do a stay for arbitration.

 

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2 hours ago, AnonJ said:

My only concern was when he was like " I'm not sure you'll get better outcome in arbitration" but then he went on to get into the disability questions basically stating to the attorney that I couldn't be garnished right now.

That is because the Judge is presuming Midland will actually follow through   You wisely kept to yourself that the entire goal was to have that MTC so Midland would drop it because arbitration is too expensive for them.   The reality is the Judge is actually correct.  A bad case in court is equally bad in arbitration so if a consumer was electing that believing it would be more favorable they would be wrong.

2 hours ago, AnonJ said:

In the end, it didn't make a difference to them and they proceeded to court. In court , the judge asked the attorney if they had record of the letter and he said they did. It was about the only thing he didn't try to deny knowledge or responsibility of. That's when the judge asked him if he was sure he wasn't willing to drop it.

Well, then look at it this way:  both you and the Judge are acutely aware that they cannot collect from you currently.  You are aware that the chances that changes are slim to none.  Let them waste their time and money.  You have nothing to lose.

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16 hours ago, AnonJ said:

I feel like I completely screwed up but I can't make it that much worse. I'm scared to even leave this up long because the attorney seemed really pissed.

You did a perfect job!!

These attorneys always throw a fit like children when they know they will lose.  The minute you said the word arbitration, this attorney knew he was going to lose and his only play left was to scare you into paying. You did a great job of holding firm and not letting his intimidation tactics get to you.  That's not an easy thing to do.

Who cares if the attorney is pissed.  Let him be.  He no longer has any power over you or this case.  His case was just forced into arbitration by you and the Court and he can not change this.  He must now explain to his client that they will have to pay $5000 to the arbitration firm in order to continue and they will not.  You will have a dismissal soon, but I would expect for them to force you to show up to court again before they dismiss - just because it will be their last chance in hopes you miss court for some reason or to send a different attorney to play dumb and try to scare you into settling yet again.

Just know that the hardest part is over and you prevailed.  Now you need to make sure you actually file the arbitration case and serve a copy to the Midland attorney too.

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