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Stenger & Stenger Civil Law Suit (Citibank Credit Card - Sears) Charged off 3 years ago


Cyndi M.
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I have a civil court date motioned by Stenger & Stenger for a debt owed that was charged off in 2018. This was a debt incurred by my ex-husband (still in divorce proceedings) whom financially abused me which is why this case is here in the first place. 

My question is, Is there anything that I can tell the judge to help me either win this case and not pay this debt that was already charged off for 3 years, OR is there a way I can defer payment arrangements until my divorce is final OR is there a way that I can ask the judge to consider a 25% of the debt paid in full?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thank you. 

Cyndi M.

 

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4 hours ago, Cyndi M. said:

My question is, Is there anything that I can tell the judge to help me either win this case and not pay this debt that was already charged off for 3 years, OR is there a way I can defer payment arrangements until my divorce is final OR is there a way that I can ask the judge to consider a 25% of the debt paid in full?

First and foremost who is the creditor or original creditor involved if the debt was sold?

Second:  charged off is merely an accounting term and has ZERO relevance to the debt being owed.  If you enter in to a payment arrangement the creditor will want what is known as a consent judgment.  That means if sign an agreement to make the payments for how much and how long for a total amount BUT if you default again they do not have to sue you.  They can simply file that document with the court for an automatic judgment.  If you do this make darn sure you can afford the payments.  

The judge has absolutely NO power to force the creditor to accept 25% of the debt owed.  You can offer that amount to the creditor suing you.  They might take it to settle the account and dismiss the suit.  

While the Judge in your divorce case can order your soon to be ex-spouse to pay the debt the one thing to remember is that the creditors are NOT party to your divorce settlement and if he doesn't comply your credit can still be trashed.  Your only recourse if he doesn't is through the family court.

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The OP mentioned it was a Citi Sears card, and the location of the OP is Ohio, which is not the best state for debtors.    

Here is the problem.  Citi has an arbitration provision, but as soon as they sue you in small claims court you lose the right to arbitrate.  

I personally defaulted on two Citi accounts.  One was a Citi Sears card, and the amount was large enough for my state's circuit court.  The other was a Home Depot Citi card, and the amount was smaller therefore small claims.  Fortunately, I filed in arbitration before they filed in small claims, which preserved my right to arbitration.

So the question is:  what kind of court is this?  

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This is a municipal court. A local court in my city where I live. The debt was originally from Sears Citi Mastercard. The court paper says it is a civil lawsuit.

I am not trying to get away with not paying anything. I called Stenger and Stenger and they didn't want to budge but for 500.00 on a 3K debt. Mind you, this 3K is not the REAL debt. The real debt is far less but when you factor in all the late fees, higher interest, and other penalties, it's very inflated. I would say by 20%. 

All I want to know is what can I do TOMORROW morning in court to stop this judgement. I really don't want this because I am finally starting to recover from my soon to be ex-husbands horrible financial abuse and foresee this could stop all chances of me to get stronger in financial health. 

Please just tell me if I can stall this in some way. Is there some Ohio revised code that will stop this predator from collecting on me? I can pay 1k of the 3k, but outside of that, with covid and reduced work, I am limited. 

There are all kinds of help solutions for people except this. For instance, student loan forgiveness, ppp loans with guaranteed forgiveness, etc. Why don't they have something for those who are struggling?

What do I say to this judge tomorrow morning? I am nervous and sick.

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25 minutes ago, Cyndi M. said:

The real debt is far less but when you factor in all the late fees, higher interest, and other penalties, it's very inflated.

That IS the real debt.  The terms and conditions for the card explain all of those charges, interest and fees.  Under contract law they are legally entitled to all of it not just the actual debt for the charges made.

26 minutes ago, Cyndi M. said:

All I want to know is what can I do TOMORROW morning in court to stop this judgement.

Beside paying it you can file bankruptcy.  

28 minutes ago, Cyndi M. said:

Please just tell me if I can stall this in some way. Is there some Ohio revised code that will stop this predator from collecting on me?

No.  OH is a very creditor friendly state.  It has one of the longest statute of limitations to file a debt collection lawsuit and their judgments are good for 20 years and can be renewed along with the post judgment interest.

29 minutes ago, Cyndi M. said:

Why don't they have something for those who are struggling?

This is basic contract law.  The courts do not have the power to do what you are asking.  They cannot over ride the terms of the contract/credit card and force your needs on to the creditor.  It sucks when you are the one on the end of it but it is contract law.  Your recourse if you get hit with a judgment is to go after your husband for it in divorce court.

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No. Citi was the original creditor. Sears Citibank. Out of Kentucky. Thank you for the links. I will check them out. I went to court and it's now moving from pretrial to discovery period and then trial in July. I feel much better after finding out more information. I am more confident they will either bite at my offer of settlement or keep spending hundreds of dollars for a local attorney to represent them. Stenger & Stenger. This firm is downright predatory.

 

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On 3/29/2021 at 8:44 PM, Clydesmom said:

That IS the real debt.  The terms and conditions for the card explain all of those charges, interest and fees.  Under contract law they are legally entitled to all of it not just the actual debt for the charges made.

Beside paying it you can file bankruptcy.  

No.  OH is a very creditor friendly state.  It has one of the longest statute of limitations to file a debt collection lawsuit and their judgments are good for 20 years and can be renewed along with the post judgment interest.

This is basic contract law.  The courts do not have the power to do what you are asking.  They cannot over ride the terms of the contract/credit card and force your needs on to the creditor.  It sucks when you are the one on the end of it but it is contract law.  Your recourse if you get hit with a judgment is to go after your husband for it in divorce court.

Thank you for the truth here. Very helpful. I am still going to attempt to fight this. I mean, what do I have to lose? I will try to put this on my divorce from my husband as you stated. I will not file bankruptcy. I am too old to start all over. Even though it sounds good, in theory. I think it takes 10 years for it to come off your credit report. I really don't want that. That will put me at 65.  At that last leg in the race, I think I want to jog to the finish line instead of going full throttle.  

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You overestimate the bad effects of a bankruptcy on your credit rating. 
 

I fought all my debts with finding violations and negotiations and DV letters at a time when many OCs failed to validate and arbitration.  I wiped out over $100k without bankruptcy.  
 

But, that killed my credit rating for a long time.  It went down to about 435.  I had a foreclosure which meant I couldn’t refinance my house for 7 years.  
 

People who had BK had their credit rating go way up within a year or two after BK.  The thing is, once you are finished with the BK, you no longer have unpaid debts.  Yes, it is on your credit report, but they know you can’t file anytime soon so they will lend you money right away since you can’t BK it out and they can use the strict Ohio laws to go after you. 
 

I am not saying you should BK over $3000.  I would avoid it for that little money if possible.  
 

But, your perception of BK may not be at all accurate.  

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1 hour ago, Cyndi M. said:

I am more confident they will either bite at my offer of settlement or keep spending hundreds of dollars for a local attorney to represent them.

Don't fall in to the same trap that many other consumers do about how much money they are spending to chase this.  Typically they pay a flat rate fee to the local law firm to handle the entire matter.  Worse:  attorney fees are typically part of the judgment so in the end the consumer pays the fees.

1 hour ago, Cyndi M. said:

I am still going to attempt to fight this.

As you should.  They are after the 97% default judgments.  You could get lucky and they dismiss.  Not everyone has what it takes to handle the stresses of court but if you do fight to the end.

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On 3/23/2021 at 8:41 PM, BackFromTheDebt said:

The OP mentioned it was a Citi Sears card, and the location of the OP is Ohio, which is not the best state for debtors.    

Here is the problem.  Citi has an arbitration provision, but as soon as they sue you in small claims court you lose the right to arbitrate.  

I personally defaulted on two Citi accounts.  One was a Citi Sears card, and the amount was large enough for my state's circuit court.  The other was a Home Depot Citi card, and the amount was smaller therefore small claims.  Fortunately, I filed in arbitration before they filed in small claims, which preserved my right to arbitration.

So the question is:  what kind of court is this?  

According to Ohio's own @nobk4me debt buyers are not allowed to file in small claims court. @Cyndi M. do you have a copy of the Sears Citi Mastercard cardholder agreement? Did Stenger include a copy with the complaint? 

 

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Yes, arbitration is the best way to beat this.  You need to file a Motion to Compel Arbitration ASAP, as soon as you find the card agreement with the arb clause.  

Note, if you do choose arb, you don't want to engage in discovery.  So don't send discovery to the plaintiff, and if they send discovery to you, you need to OBJECT to all of them, on the basis that arbitration has been elected, there is a jurisdictional motion before the court, and the scope of discovery is to be determined by the arbitration forum.  The reason for objecting is participating too far in litigation can waive your arb rights.  Applicable Ohio case law is Land v. Byrider https://casetext.com/case/land-v-jd-byrider-inc

Note that you can't just ignore their discovery, you need to object to it.  Admissions are deemed admitted if you don't answer them.

Best info on arbitration:

https://www.creditinfocenter.com/community/topic/329436-arbitration-overview-and-strategy-2018-most-up-to-date-info/

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