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Quick history:  I beat Midland in small claims (no counterclaim by me), which caused another claim by Cavalry (which I did have a counterclaim)  to settle with 0 and mutual dismissal w/prejudice a year ago.  Its been quiet ever since, however, I just received two dunning letters from two different attorneys for two different accounts.  One being capital one, the other synchrony bank (both are JDB).  No suits have been filed yet, but I feel its coming, most likely both being small claims.  I don't see an arbitration clause in the cap one agreement, so I can deal with that in small claims (same law firm I beat already).  The synchrony one is what I would like to pursue the arbitration strategy on.  The CCA has the following verbiage:

• What claims are subject to arbitration 1.  If either you or we make a demand for arbitration, you and we must arbitrate any dispute or claim between you or any other user of your account, and us, our affiliates, agents and/or Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. if it relates to your account, except as noted below.  2.  We will not require you to arbitrate: (1) any individual case in small claims court or your state’s equivalent court, so long as it remains an individual case in that court; or (2) a case we file to collect money you owe us. However, if you respond to the collection lawsuit by claiming any wrongdoing, we may require you to arbitrate. 3.  Notwithstanding any other language in this section, only a court, not an arbitrator, will decide disputes about the validity, enforceability, coverage or scope of this section or any part thereof (including, without limitation, the next paragraph of this section and/or this sentence). However, any dispute or argument that concerns the validity or enforceability of the Agreement as a whole is for the arbitrator, not a court, to decide. 

My question is, should I wait for a lawsuit or file a claim with aaa/jams preemptively?  I've read mixed feeling about each on this site.

My main concern in waiting for a lawsuit is that I cannot find any way to file a MTC in small claims in alabama.  I have googled it, looked up the court rules and even called the clerks office.  I cannot find any way to have the judge rule on moving it to arbitration, short of showing up to trial and explaining that I want arbitration as provided in the CCA.  If that is the only way, should I then have a case started already before I get there?  The answer sheet for small claims has 4 boxes to check:

A. □ I do not live in this county and the suit against me is not for work or labor performed in the county where suit has been filed; thus, I want this case transferred to my home county of ______________________________________________,

B. □ I admit everything in the Statement of Claim and do not want a trial. (This means that you consent to a judgment for the amount claimed plus court costs).

C. □ I admit that I owe some money, but not the total amount claimed by the plaintiff(s). (If this block is checked, the case will be set for trial. Please note that any money paid by you on this claim after the suit was filed may not be reflected on the Statement of Claim which you receive. You should contact the person who has sued you or his/her attorney to determine the present balance which is claimed).

D. □ I deny that I am responsible at all. (If this block is checked, this case will be set for trial).

I'm still well within the 30 days since dunning, the amount alleged is just shy of 5k.

Looking for suggestions, advice, anything.  Anybody in Alabama been through this?

Thank you all, this site really helped with the first two victories!

@fisthardcheese @Harry Seaward @BackFromTheDebt @BV80

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If I’m not mistaken, @fisthardcheesedoes not recommend filing a preemptive MTC unless the claim is not subject to small claims court.   I don’t believe the Synchrony agreement makes that exception.  

The Federal Arbitration Act makes no reference to a level of a particular court.   Your rules should include something about motions,   It doesn’t have to be specific to a MTC arbitration.  In fact, some state supreme court rules apply to lower courts. 

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 hSo I'm still digging, but I was able to find the following on the Alabama Supreme Court and State Law Library: 


Rule N.

Applicability of ARCP The Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure as modified for applicability in the district courts shall be applicable to court cases when necessary to serve the ends of justice and when the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure, as modified, are not inconsistent with these rules.

And looking up Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure under Pleadings and Motions on the same website, I found this:

(b) Motions and other papers.

(1) An application to the court for an order shall be by motion which, unless made during a hearing or trial, shall be made in writing, shall state with particularity the grounds therefor, and shall set forth the relief or order sought. The requirement of writing is fulfilled if the motion is stated in a written notice of the hearing of the motion.

(2) The rules applicable to captions and other matters of form of pleadings apply to all motions and other papers provided for by these rules.

(3) All motions shall be signed in accordance with Rule 11.

I also found a "motion cover sheet"  (see attached file)


If I understand correctly, I can make a motion just as if it was district court.  I would use the attached cover sheet along with my motion and my affidavit for the CCA should the JDB take this to court.  Is that how you read it?

Motion Cover Sheet.pdf

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I would not file the JAMS claim until after court, HOWEVER, I would suggest filling out the JAMS Demand form and having copies with you in court.

Many small claims court don't look at motions prior to the trial date.  You will just have to file it and then expect the attorney to look at it for the first time on the trial date when you meet with them during the settlement talk.  I would pressure the attorney at that point to show you know that you are entitled to arbitration by law and will have the case moved.  If they don't want to agree to stipulate, then you can go to the judge to make it happen.

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