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wakingupnow

How badly did I mess up - didn't respond to civil suit serving

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I was sued in 9/18 in california and did not respond. I foolishly was waiting for a notice of a hearing. I don't want to run from the debt anymore. I'm hoping to settle for close to what I owe as that's the limits of what I could possibly do (hoping to not have to pay double in court costs). I was naive and thought some more contact or papers would come from the attorneys.

 What do I do if there is no further court action found beyond the initial lawsuit filing? Do I just have to wait for a default judgement or do I contact the attorneys? Thanks in advance.

 

1. Who is the named plaintiff in the suit?

PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATES,

2. What is the name of the law firm handling the suit? (should be listed at the top of the complaint.)

HUNT & HENRIQUES    

3. How much are you being sued for?

$1,500

4. Who is the original creditor? (if not the Plaintiff)

Amazon

5. How do you know you are being sued? (You were served, right?)

served

6. How were you served? (Mail, In person, Notice on door)

in person

7. Was the service legal as required by your state?

yes

8. What was your correspondence (if any) with the people suing you before you think you were being sued?

none

9. What state and county do you live in?

Orange County, CA

10. When is the last time you paid on this account? (looking to establish if you are outside of the statute of limitations)

6/2017

11. When did you open the account (looking to establish what card agreement may be applicable)?

`10/2014

12. What is the SOL on the debt? 

4 years

13. What is the status of your case? Suit served? Motions filed? You can find this by a) calling the court or B) looking it up online (many states have this information posted - when you find the online court site, search by case number or your name).

only initial summons and complaint filed same day - no hearings

14. Have you disputed the debt with the credit bureaus (both the original creditor and the collection agency?)

no

15. Did you request debt validation before the suit was filed? Note: if you haven't sent a debt validation request before being sued, it likely won't help create FDCPA violations, but disputing after being sued could be useful to show the court that you dispute the debt ('account stated' vs. 'breach of contract').

no

16. How long do you have to respond to the suit? (This should be in your paperwork). If you don't respond to the lawsuit notice you will lose automatically. In 99% of the cases, they will require you to answer the summons, and each point they are claiming. We need to know what the "charges" are. Please post what they are claiming. Did you receive an interrogatory (questionnaire) regarding the lawsuit?

no - filed in 9/18 - I only received the initial summons - I was stupid. I was waiting for a hearing notice. Just dumb.

17. What evidence did they send with the summons? An affidavit? Statements from the OC? Contract? List anything else they attached as exhibits.

copy of last statements

18.  How did you find out about this site?

google search

 

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2 hours ago, wakingupnow said:

 What do I do if there is no further court action found beyond the initial lawsuit filing? Do I just have to wait for a default judgement or do I contact the attorneys?

The default judgment has already happened.  If they haven't tried to collect it, they likely will eventually.  Interest is accruing in the mean time, so it's best to get on this sooner than later.

Give the attorneys a call and see what kind of a deal you can work out with them.  They probably won't take less than the full amount owed at this point, but you never know and it never hurts to try to negotiate with them.

1 hour ago, wakingupnow said:

also, if I pay, how do I protect myself so that they don't come back and try to collect again later on?

They will have an agreement for you to sign.  It should include a "full release".  Pay only with a cashier's check/money order, keep your receipt and copy of the agreement.  If they ever try to collect it in the future, you'll have proof that it was paid and settled in full.

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hi - and thanks.  I don't see the default judgement in the case search nor on credit checks. Do I need to get myself an attorney to attempt to pay this? Do I need to contact the courts at all and inform them I will try to settle? 

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6 hours ago, Harry Seaward said:

The default judgment has already happened.

We don't know that.  CA Courts move slower than any others.

If there is no judgement yet and this were me, I would immediately file an answer denying all claims.  I would watch for them to file a motion for default and state that your answer was too late, and you will then have to respond with some kind of reason as to why you filed a late answer and just hope the court will deny their default.

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hi fisthardcheese,

 

Would this make them more or less likely to settle or make them push for higher attorney's fees? Thanks in advance.

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3 hours ago, fisthardcheese said:

We don't know that.  CA Courts move slower than any others.

OP said she was sued 9 months ago.  Can it really take 9+ months for the court to enter default judgment?

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1 hour ago, Harry Seaward said:

OP said she was sued 9 months ago.  Can it really take 9+ months for the court to enter default judgment?

In California: yes.  LA County is unbelievably busy and the time from filing to trial is about 2 years.  It is possible that it took 9 months.  Due to the crowded docket when a case is filed the court sets strict guidelines.  I am pretty sure that if a Defendant does not respond after being served the default judgment is automatic.

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hi - what are your thought on contacting the attorneys? Do I need an attorney to do so? Am I going to be on the hook for significantly more than the lawsuit amount? I may consider a BK as a I have other debts. Or is it worth trying to settle? Thanks

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In Connecticut, I have looked at many cases online and am amazed how some of them drag on. I see where they filed for default and a year later it's granted, then they must submit motion for payments and the plaintiffs sometimes follow up a year later. It's crazy. In Connecticut, plaintiff can file for default, court will grant it - when it gets around to it- and defendant will receive a letter.  They state that if you file an answer before judgement, they will set it aside.

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2 hours ago, Clydesmom said:

am pretty sure that if a Defendant does not respond after being served the default judgment is automatic.

Which is what happened here.

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52 minutes ago, wakingupnow said:

hi - what are your thought on contacting the attorneys? Do I need an attorney to do so?

You don't need an attorney. Just tell them you would like to see what they will accept to settle the debt. Or you can use the method @fisthardcheese suggested. 

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@RyanEX

@sadinca

Is this the correct rule?

 

CHAPTER 2. Judgment Upon Failure to Answer [585 - 587.5]

585. Judgment may be had, if the defendant fails to answer the complaint, as follows:

(a) In an action arising upon contract or judgment for the recovery of money or damages only, if the defendant has, or if more than one defendant, if any of the defendants have, been served, other than by publication, and no answer, demurrer, notice of motion to strike of the character specified in subdivision (f), notice of motion to transfer pursuant to Section 396b, notice of motion to dismiss pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 583.210) of Chapter 1.5 of Title 8, notice of motion to quash service of summons or to stay or dismiss the action pursuant to Section 418.10, or notice of the filing of a petition for writ of mandate as provided in Section 418.10 has been filed with the clerk of the court within the time specified in the summons, or within further time as may be allowed, the clerk, upon written application of the plaintiff, and proof of the service of summons, shall enter the default of the defendant or defendants, so served, and immediately thereafter enter judgment for the principal amount demanded in the complaint, in the statement required by Section 425.11, or in the statement provided for in Section 425.115, or a lesser amount if credit has been acknowledged, together with interest allowed by law or in accordance with the terms of the contract, and the costs against the defendant, or defendants, or against one or more of the defendants.

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I called an attorney to see if I needed help in defending this or getting the right kind of settlement paperwork. Quote was $800 plus court filing fees. Worth it? I'm a little hesitant to call the suing attorneys on my own. Thoughts? Seems like I could pay over $1100 or more just to have to pay their attorneys anyway. But the guy was really helpful and I feel like I'd use them if the amounts were larger. Maybe I still need them? Seems if I lose, than I have nothing left to pay the original bill.

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hi @fisthardcheese  thanks. I'm thinking of doing this. Question: does this help me in settling or give me better leverage in settling.

I'm afraid of this: I respond and they come at me with no settlement offer and I have to pay some attorney fees that bring me to double my debt or more. This would indeed force me into BK.

I called an attorney (I'm sorry I did not at first see your advice @Harry Seaward and they wanted a healthy amount to file the answer for me and negotiate with some leverage or get the judgment set aside (if one exists that isn't showing in the court online search -still no change there). But that seems like I'm going to spend almost my debt amount and then risk the judgement fees.

 

@Harry SeawardI am open to calling the suing attorneys, but what I can pay is about what I owe (and that affects me deeply for a few months for sure), but I'm afraid of what I read on some sites about them here: http://californiacollectiondefense.com/sued-hunt-henriques/  They say I could agree to a settlement and pay while they obtain a judgement anyway and come after me for the whole thing? I don't know if I could file a belated answer to beat their electronic filing services or make it to a BK lawyer fast enough if they want over the original debt.

 

I know this whole thing operates on fear, lack of resources and being in the wrong in the face of the law. I'm trying to do the right thing too late. 

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1 hour ago, wakingupnow said:

I know this whole thing operates on fear

Only if you let it. You have the money they want. It benefits them to be reasonable. That doesn't mean for sure they will, but the odds are good. 

1 hour ago, wakingupnow said:

They say I could agree to a settlement and pay while they obtain a judgement anyway and come after me for the whole thing?

The settlement is a legally binding contract. They can't do anything the agreement doesn't allow them to do. If they agree to accept $50 a month for 100 months, they can't take you back to court unless you miss your payments. 

You also need to be smart about what you agree to. They may initially present you with an agreement that says if you miss one payment by 3 days, you forfeit any amount you've paid on your payment plan. Obviously it wouldn't be smart to agree to that condition. 

If you're worried about it, post the agreement here and we'll let you know if anything looks like a potential problem. 

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On 6/4/2019 at 1:00 PM, wakingupnow said:

hi - what are your thought on contacting the attorneys? Do I need an attorney to do so? Am I going to be on the hook for significantly more than the lawsuit amount? I may consider a BK as a I have other debts. Or is it worth trying to settle? Thanks

Personally, I would not contact the attorneys until I at least filed a late answer.  Otherwise they will just file the default immediately after getting off the phone with you, if they haven't already.

Once, and if, you can get around a late answer and avoid a default judgement, this is a fairly easy winnable case, in my opinion.  You have a Synchrony Card agreement in California.  That is a slam dunk arbitration win.  Filing a Motion to Compel Private arbitration should send PRA packing shorty after.  But your major problem is the fact you still haven't filed an answer and we don't know if you can avoid a default judgement yet.

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