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Sued by JHDPE Finance 1, LLC they bought my Citibank debt


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1. Who is the named plaintiff in the suit?

JHDPE Finance

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

Mandarich Law Group

3. How much are you being sued for?

$7,000+

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

Citibank

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

Served by Private process server

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

In Person

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

I think so.  She left it on the chair by my front door when I wouldn't open the door for her since she wasn't wearing a mask

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

Nothing. I never have heard of them.  I haven't heard from Citibank in 4 years. 

9. What state and county do you live in?

Gwinnett, Georgia

10. When is the last time you paid on this account? (looking to establish if you are outside of the statute of limitations)
Around September 2017

11. What is the SOL on the debt? To find out:

6 years


12. 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).
Suit served, I haven't answered yet

13. Have you disputed the debt with the credit bureaus (both the original creditor and the collection agency?)
no   Neither debt is on my credit report.  The old Citibank says it was closed in 2010 and it was paid off. No negative from them.  And the JHDPE that bought the debt hasn't filed anything on my report. 

14. Did you request debt validation before the suit was filed? Note: if you haven't sent a debt validation request, don't bother doing this now - it's too late.
no, I didn't know they had bought the debt. 

15. 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?

I have about 2 more weeks before the answering deadline is gone


16. What evidence did they send with the summons? An affidavit? Statements from the OC? Contract? List anything else they attached as exhibits.
3 exhibits... The bill of sale where they bought the debt, a credit card statement, and a cardmember agreement (but not a signed one, just an agreement)  

 

I don't know what to do from here.  I am reading on arbitration but don't fully understand what it is.  Will a debt buyer honor arbitration?  I have tried to talk to them to see if there is an option for a settlement agreement before we go to court but I can't get anywhere on the phone.  I just get put on hold and get a run around. 

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1 hour ago, DrowningCreek said:

1. Who is the named plaintiff in the suit?

JHDPE Finance

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

Mandarich Law Group

3. How much are you being sued for?

$7,000+

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

Citibank

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

Served by Private process server

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

In Person

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

I think so.  She left it on the chair by my front door when I wouldn't open the door for her since she wasn't wearing a mask

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

Nothing. I never have heard of them.  I haven't heard from Citibank in 4 years. 

9. What state and county do you live in?

Gwinnett, Georgia

10. When is the last time you paid on this account? (looking to establish if you are outside of the statute of limitations)
Around September 2017

11. What is the SOL on the debt? To find out:

6 years


12. 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).
Suit served, I haven't answered yet

13. Have you disputed the debt with the credit bureaus (both the original creditor and the collection agency?)
no   Neither debt is on my credit report.  The old Citibank says it was closed in 2010 and it was paid off. No negative from them.  And the JHDPE that bought the debt hasn't filed anything on my report. 

14. Did you request debt validation before the suit was filed? Note: if you haven't sent a debt validation request, don't bother doing this now - it's too late.
no, I didn't know they had bought the debt. 

15. 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?

I have about 2 more weeks before the answering deadline is gone


16. What evidence did they send with the summons? An affidavit? Statements from the OC? Contract? List anything else they attached as exhibits.
3 exhibits... The bill of sale where they bought the debt, a credit card statement, and a cardmember agreement (but not a signed one, just an agreement)  

 

I don't know what to do from here.  I am reading on arbitration but don't fully understand what it is.  Will a debt buyer honor arbitration?  I have tried to talk to them to see if there is an option for a settlement agreement before we go to court but I can't get anywhere on the phone.  I just get put on hold and get a run around. 

They don't need a signed credit card agreement. Credit cards don't have signed agreements, your use of the card constitutes agreement with the cardholder terms. Yes, a debt buyer would have to honor the arbitration, but there are usually pretty clear instructions in the card agreement that govern the use of arbitration. Either way, that is what you will want to try to use. If there is a small claims exception or anything similar then arbitration may not work, but you'd have to check the agreement and find out what it states. @clydesmom will probably chime in  pretty soon.

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47 minutes ago, alwayswinning36 said:

They don't need a signed credit card agreement. Credit cards don't have signed agreements, your use of the card constitutes agreement with the cardholder terms. Yes, a debt buyer would have to honor the arbitration, but there are usually pretty clear instructions in the card agreement that govern the use of arbitration. Either way, that is what you will want to try to use. If there is a small claims exception or anything similar then arbitration may not work, but you'd have to check the agreement and find out what it states. @clydesmom will probably chime in  pretty soon.

Thanks for replying.  I didn't say it had to be signed I was just clearly stating what was in the evidence part of the lawsuit since that is one of the questions when you post. 

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28 minutes ago, BackFromTheDebt said:

Citi has a small claims exemption. 
 

@Clydesmom may be able to tell you if the exemption applies in this situation.  

Thank you for your reply.   This is filed in Magistrate court.  I don't know if that changes anything.  I am trying to read up on arbitration but I still do not have a grasp as to what it is or how to file for it. 

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13 hours ago, DrowningCreek said:

This is filed in Magistrate court.  I don't know if that changes anything. 

It does.  Magistrate Court in GA is small claims and CITI I believe has a carve out for debt cases filed in small claims court prohibiting arbitration of the cases.  You need to read the entire clause on arbitration in the card agreement they provided to be certain.

Now for the good news:  Gwinnett County is one of the largest in GA and the Magistrates that serve there are actual lawyers and judges experienced in the law.  They typically are not part of the GA good ole boys network and will require evidence to rule in their favor.  They also use GA pre-printed answer forms.  You do not need to file a formal answer.  You can go to the clerk's office and pull one off the wall.  Hand fill out the details and hand it to the clerk.  They will stamp it and give you a copy back.  Do this about 4 days prior to the expiration of the date to answer.  The reason is Magistrate Court is VERY efficient in Gwinnett and within a couple of weeks you will have a trial date within 30-60 days.  

Now the bad news:  Magistrate Court does not allow discovery so do not stress yourself trying to come up with it.  They cannot send it to you and you cannot send it to them. Due to the relaxed GA business records laws you need to watch for a letter from them giving you the opportunity to come to their offices to review the evidence they intend to use.  If you fail to do this you cannot object to it.  It is also trial by ambush.  Meaning the date they give you that is IT.  The first thing that will happen is the attorney will approach you and try to get you to settle.  IF that doesn't happen the Magistrate usually gives a speech about how clear the law is and that job loss, divorce, health etc. are not legal defenses to default.  If you do not have a legal defense the law is clear and he must rule for the party suing you.  Then you are given time to discuss settlement options.  The law firm suing you is a major debt suit factory.  The good news on that is they likely will hire a local yokel who doesn't know what they are doing and is banking on you not showing and a default judgment.  If you lose you can appeal which is a trial de novo meaning it starts all over.  The bad news is GA often requires an appeal bond in the amount of the verdict to do that and it must be filed within 30 days of losing.

Settlement discussions are inadmissible in court.  You can settle any time prior to the verdict.

Here is my thoughts.  Read the arbitration agreement.  Even if the carve out is there you can type up 3 copies of a MTC with your specific facts.  To do this even with the clause present you need to be confident in your ability to argue your right to it.  The argument I would take is ignorance is bliss.  I don't agree with it but you have nothing to lose but them denying the motion and going to trial anyway.  That is Magistrate Court is not small claims.  Again, you have to be confident to argue this.  My guess and it is a guess, is that lokel yokel attorney won't know what to do with that motion and could actually agree.  Odds are good they ask for a continuance to talk to their client.  Then they may dismiss.  They might just dismiss right then seeing you showed up and you refuse to settle.  If you can study up on good solid arguments on why they don't have enough evidence you could actually win in Gwinnett because the Magistrates are smart and do require evidence.  If you do not feel you have the confidence or the time to put the work in to have a solid plan then keep working on settlement options.  You can send a certified letter offering settlement to the attorney listed and then they will likely call you.  One more thing to do:  Call the law firm Skaar and Feagle.  CALL do not email.  They will do a first consult for free.  They may take your case on a flat fee that is way cheaper than $7k and better than settlement.  Often in GA JDBs fold when the defendant hires counsel.  Skaar and Feagle also know who most of these lokel yokels are and how to make them go away.

 

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Thank you so much!  That is very helpful.  I don't know what an MTC is but I will figure it out!   

One other question, what happens if they don't send me a letter or contact me about reviewing the evidence?   

The company that bought my debt never contacted me.  They went straight to lawsuit.  A person I talked to one the phone also told me that they couldn't talk to me.  I am taking today to read through everything here and then I am going to try to talk to them again tomorrow.  

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1 hour ago, DrowningCreek said:

Thank you so much!  That is very helpful.  I don't know what an MTC is but I will figure it out!   

One other question, what happens if they don't send me a letter or contact me about reviewing the evidence?   

The company that bought my debt never contacted me.  They went straight to lawsuit.  A person I talked to one the phone also told me that they couldn't talk to me.  I am taking today to read through everything here and then I am going to try to talk to them again tomorrow.  

I believe based on what @Clydesmom wrote (but could be wrong), if they don't send the letter, you might be able to object to the evidence in court since this is the first time they are showing it to you.

As for contact, call the law office and request to speak to the lawyer, not the JDB. The lawyer is required to talk to the other party to work out a settlement before court. If the law office refuses to talk to you, bring that up in court. If anything, that will anger the judge, especially in a county where efficiency is everything.

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7 hours ago, WhoCares1000 said:

I believe based on what @Clydesmom wrote (but could be wrong), if they don't send the letter, you might be able to object to the evidence in court since this is the first time they are showing it to you.

This is correct..  Because the Magistrate Court does not allow discovery and GA business records laws does in order to use the documents as evidence the suing party is required to provide an opportunity for the defendant to examine the evidence prior to trial.  Where many defendants get tripped up is not knowing this and when the savvy law firms send the letter they figure no big deal I will object at court and then find out they can't because they didn't review the evidence in advance.

If the letter never comes you object to any evidence you want excluded or believe is inadequate to support their case.

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On 7/27/2021 at 12:17 AM, Clydesmom said:

This is correct..  Because the Magistrate Court does not allow discovery and GA business records laws does in order to use the documents as evidence the suing party is required to provide an opportunity for the defendant to examine the evidence prior to trial.  Where many defendants get tripped up is not knowing this and when the savvy law firms send the letter they figure no big deal I will object at court and then find out they can't because they didn't review the evidence in advance.

If the letter never comes you object to any evidence you want excluded or believe is inadequate to support their case.


What if they put the only evidence (the statements) that they plan to use in with the papers they served me with? 

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1 hour ago, DrowningCreek said:


What if they put the only evidence (the statements) that they plan to use in with the papers they served me with? 

Then they will be allowed to use it and you will be allowed to challenge it.

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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, DrowningCreek said:

If I can't get the Magistrate court judge to go with Arbitration, would appealing and getting it moved to the upper court allow me to work around the small claims arbitration clause?

An appeal from magistrate court is a de novo procedure. That means the entire case is retried, just as if there was no underlying judgment, provided that the appeal was made in a timely manner and is not from a default judgment. The appeal of a civil case must be FILED within thirty (30) days of the date of judgment.  But I don't know if that will over ride the smalls claims arbitration clause I would check with a GA attorney if that's the case. 

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54 minutes ago, Bulldoger said:

Not familiar with GA law you have too verify but most states require a bond equal to judgement to appeal to higher court, of course you can't appeal a default or consent judgement.  

Well, that would be out because I am in this situation because I have no money.  I could never cover a bond.   Thank you. 

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5 minutes ago, Bulldoger said:

An appeal from magistrate court is a de novo procedure. That means the entire case is retried, just as if there was no underlying judgment, provided that the appeal was made in a timely manner and is not from a default judgment. The appeal of a civil case must be FILED within thirty (30) days of the date of judgment.  But I don't know if that will over ride the smalls claims arbitration clause I would check with a GA attorney if that's the case. 

Thank you.   I am reading in a lot of threads.  It all seems pretty hopeless at this point. 

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17 minutes ago, DrowningCreek said:

Thank you.   I am reading in a lot of threads.  It all seems pretty hopeless at this point. 

Has a judgment been rendered against you?  Or are you referring to just appealing the denial of your MTC arbitration?

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1 hour ago, BV80 said:

Has a judgment been rendered against you?  Or are you referring to just appealing the denial of your MTC arbitration?

2. 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).
Suit served, I haven't answered yet

 

 3 hours ago, DrowningCreek said:

If I can't get the Magistrate court judge to go with Arbitration, would appealing and getting it moved to the upper court allow me to work around the small claims arbitration clause?

I think he is looking for way to get around the small claims court carve out of arbitration by Citibank. If OP was to lose and get a judgement and they appealed, it would be "de novo" in next higher court no longer in small claim can he then file an MTC because it's  "de novo" in the appeal court.  IDK if the court would rule it's a continuance of small claims so no MTC allowed or if he lost his chance buy litigating in small claims or if he would be allowed to move the case to arbitration since it's de novo.  

Seems to be moot as GA requires a bond totaling the judgement plus cost OP can't afford. 

Chapter 5 of the Georgia Appellate Handbook specifically addresses the Georgia supersedeas bond requirements for appellants. Pursuant to the Handbook, "A supersedeas bond is not automatically required in cases in which a notice of appeal has been filed and the appropriate costs paid however upon motion by the appellee, made before or after the appeal is docketed in the appellate court, the trial court must require posting of a supersedeas bond. Generally, a supersedeas bond should be in an amount sufficient to satisfy: (i) the judgment in full; (ii) costs; (iii) interest; and (iv) damages for delay, if the appeal is found to be frivolous. In those cases where the judgment is for the recovery of money 'not otherwise secured,' the Georgia supersedes bond must be written in an amount sufficient to satisfy: (i) the whole amount of the judgment remaining unsatisfied; (ii) costs on the appeal; (iii) interest; and (iv) damages for delay, unless the court finds cause that a lesser amount is appropriate. In those cases where the judgment determines the disposition of property such as in real estate actions, trover, and actions to foreclose mortgages the supersedeas bond must be written in an amount that will secure only: (i) the use and detention of the property; (ii) the costs of the action; (iii) costs of appeal; (iv) interest; and (v) damages for delay. There is an exception to the formula for the bond penalty. Pursuant to rule, regardless of the legal theory asserted, the type of damages awarded, and the number of parties, the total supersedeas bond penalty required of all appellants collectively may not exceed $25 million regardless of the value of the judgment." While an appellant is not obligated to provide a supersedeas bond, failure to do so results in the appellant losing the stay on collection protection of the supersedeas.

 

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4 hours ago, BV80 said:

Has a judgment been rendered against you?  Or are you referring to just appealing the denial of your MTC arbitration?

Judgment hasn't been rendered yet.  I answered, court date is in a couple of months but according to what others here have posted I can't arbitrate because Magistrate is small claims.  And even if I could appeal to get around it, I can't afford the bond.  So.... 

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10 hours ago, Bulldoger said:

I think he is looking for way to get around the small claims court carve out of arbitration by Citibank. If OP was to lose and get a judgement and they appealed, it would be "de novo" in next higher court no longer in small claim can he then file an MTC because it's  "de novo" in the appeal court.  IDK if the court would rule it's a continuance of small claims so no MTC allowed or if he lost his chance buy litigating in small claims or if he would be allowed to move the case to arbitration since it's de novo.  

 

A denial of a MTC arbitration can immediately be appealed (interlocutory appeal).  In that instance, the court is not ruling on the merits of the claim because no judgment has yet been rendered.  The only issue before the appellate court is whether or not the magistrate court was correct in denying the MTC.  Since the claim is still in magistrate court and would return to the magistrate after the appellate court rules, the ruling would be based upon that fact.

 

10 hours ago, Bulldoger said:

Seems to be moot as GA requires a bond totaling the judgement plus cost OP can't afford. 

Chapter 5 of the Georgia Appellate Handbook specifically addresses the Georgia supersedeas bond requirements for appellants. Pursuant to the Handbook, "A supersedeas bond is not automatically required in cases in which a notice of appeal has been filed and the appropriate costs paid however upon motion by the appellee, made before or after the appeal is docketed in the appellate court, the trial court must require posting of a supersedeas bond. Generally, a supersedeas bond should be in an amount sufficient to satisfy: (i) the judgment in full; (ii) costs; (iii) interest; and (iv) damages for delay, if the appeal is found to be frivolous. In those cases where the judgment is for the recovery of money 'not otherwise secured,' the Georgia supersedes bond must be written in an amount sufficient to satisfy: (i) the whole amount of the judgment remaining unsatisfied; (ii) costs on the appeal; (iii) interest; and (iv) damages for delay, unless the court finds cause that a lesser amount is appropriate. In those cases where the judgment determines the disposition of property such as in real estate actions, trover, and actions to foreclose mortgages the supersedeas bond must be written in an amount that will secure only: (i) the use and detention of the property; (ii) the costs of the action; (iii) costs of appeal; (iv) interest; and (v) damages for delay. There is an exception to the formula for the bond penalty. Pursuant to rule, regardless of the legal theory asserted, the type of damages awarded, and the number of parties, the total supersedeas bond penalty required of all appellants collectively may not exceed $25 million regardless of the value of the judgment." While an appellant is not obligated to provide a supersedeas bond, failure to do so results in the appellant losing the stay on collection protection of the supersedeas.

Whether or not a bond is needed is not clear.  This cited rule states “where the JUDGMENT is for the recovery of money…”. The OP would not be appealing a judgment.  He would be appealing an order denying a MTC.

But as you stated, it is a moot point.  Since an interlocutory appeal would only be based upon whether or not the magistrate court was correct in denying the MTC, a small claims exclusion in the agreement would force the court to affirm the magistrate court’s ruling.  The case would then continue to proceed in magistrate court.

 

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At this point the only way to get an MTC is to convince the magistrate that Magistrate Court is not the same as Small Claims court.  I am not familiar with the Georgia court system.  From what @Clydesmom has posted it does not appear to be very consumer friendly. 
 

There is the question as to whether an appeal would take the case into a higher court without the small claims exemption.  @BV80 showed the dangers of that approach.  
 

I don’t know the GA appeals process.  If you could appeal after the judgment, do you get a de nova trial or is it a review of the previous case?   In my state the higher court gives a de nova trial, which gives a better chance of an MTC since the case is no longer in small claims.  Other states have different rules, which I cannot address.  You need to know the appeals process in your state. If it is a review of the lower court decision, you may be out of luck. 

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30 minutes ago, BackFromTheDebt said:

There is the question as to whether an appeal would take the case into a higher court without the small claims exemption.  

I don’t know if there are any rulings anywhere that address that specific issue.

A de novo appeal after a judgment is a new trial.  It’s as if no lower court trial had taken place.  Based on that, one could argue that the small claims exclusion does not apply because the lawsuit is now in a higher court.

However, that argument would render the small claims exclusion useless if everyone could simply file an appeal to a higher court and then compel arbitration.  The court would review the agreement.  We just don’t know whether or not it would have to take into consideration the fact that the lawsuit was originally filed in small claims, and if the granting of a MTC would be unfair to the plaintiff who correctly originally filed in small claims.

 

52 minutes ago, BackFromTheDebt said:

At this point the only way to get an MTC is to convince the magistrate that Magistrate Court is not the same as Small Claims court.

According to the GA Consumer Protection Division:

“Magistrate court, also called small claims court, is an informal court that handles money claims of less than $15,000.  This court offers a quick and inexpensive process to resolve complaints.”

https://consumer.georgia.gov/resolve-your-dispute/other-options-resolving-your-dispute

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There have been few. If any, real court tests as to whether a trial de nova gets rid of the small claims exemption.  I can’t remember the details, but there might have been a case in Dane County Wisconsin, which is the most consumer friendly county in a consumer friendly state.  
 

I once had the good fortune of having a case with Cap 1 before the most consumer friendly judge in Dane County.  I am happy with the results.  
 

But, what might have happened in a particularly consumer friendly court in a different state is not applicable to Georgia. 

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56 minutes ago, BackFromTheDebt said:

There have been few. If any, real court tests as to whether a trial de nova gets rid of the small claims exemption.  I can’t remember the details, but there might have been a case in Dane County Wisconsin, which is the most consumer friendly county in a consumer friendly state.  
 

I once had the good fortune of having a case with Cap 1 before the most consumer friendly judge in Dane County.  I am happy with the results.  
 

But, what might have happened in a particularly consumer friendly court in a different state is not applicable to Georgia. 

I don’t know that this is a matter of consumer-friendly vs. nonfriendly courts.  It’s a matter of contract and the law.  Consumer-friendly courts can make mistakes just as often an nonfriendly courts.  That’s the purpose of appeals.

But no court, small claims, superior, appellate, or supreme, can add to or take away from a contract or the law.  Well, they can rule that terms in a contract are unconscionable, but aside from that, they can’t add or take away terms.

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