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Small Claims - If no lawyers are allowed who represents the Plaintiff


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It was pointed out earlier that Citibank has a "Carve Out" for small claims court for suits less than 10,000. Lawyers are not permitted unless by special authorization by the Court so who do you normally go up against. What kind of filings are you allowed to make or motions can be made. What is the best strategy for fighting this type of litigation. 

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Just now, HueyPilot said:

It was pointed out earlier that Citibank has a "Carve Out" for small claims court for suits less than 10,000. Lawyers are not permitted unless by special authorization by the Court so who do you normally go up against. What kind of filings are you allowed to make or motions can be made. What is the best strategy for fighting this type of litigation. 

There are only a handful of states that prohibit attorneys in small claims court.  California is one of them.  For debt collection cases in states where attorneys are not allowed in small claims court they have to file in State Court.  i.e. The next level up of court.  In Texas some attorneys go ahead and file there because Justice Court requires permission to do discovery and limits what can be sought.  State Court does not.  Georgia has Magistrate Court where the limit is $15,000 and there is no restriction on attorneys using this small claims court. However, Magistrate Court does not allow discovery at all so some firms go straight to State Court to avoid that.  

The limit for small claims cases varies from state to state.  The typical limit is $5,000.  Some moved it up to $10,000 and a few have it as high as $15,000.  The value of the case does not necessarily make it small claims.  The court the case is filed in DOES.  State Courts do not cap the limits that can be sought.  Small Claims court does.  Therefore some Plaintiffs are forced to a higher court when the cap is low or they don't sue for full value.  

CITI does not have a carve out for small claims court suits.  They have a carve out for arbitration on cases filed in small claims court.  So someone sued in Magistrate Court in GA for $11k could not compel arbitration because Magistrate Court IS small claims in GA.  Someone sued in California in State Court for a CITI debt for $2335 could compel arbitration because the case would have to be filed in State Court since attorneys are not allowed in small claims in California.

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Most large businesses do not use small claims court where lawyers are not allowed or where there is a better advantage of using civil court. In Minnesota, for example, lawyers are allowed in conciliatory court (what we call small claims) but most companies do not use it because of the pocket docket and look/peek rules for garnishments that they are afforded in civil court (and the fact that civil court is expensive, for example, it would cost most people $600 just to get to arbitration). In the case of CITI, if the JDB did use conciliatory court, I would not be able to use arbitration because that is small claims court. Since most JDBs however use civil court because of the rules advantage, I can force arbitration (or force a settlement of $600 in lieu of dealing with court and arbitration).

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14 hours ago, Clydesmom said:

There are only a handful of states that prohibit attorneys in small claims court.  Someone sued in California in State Court for a CITI debt for $2335 could compel arbitration because the case would have to be filed in State Court since attorneys are not allowed in small claims in California.

@ClydesmomYou identified the root of the question. Oregon does NOT allow attorneys in small claims court unless you get special permission from the judge. It would seem possible for the plaintiff to have an attorney though doubtful. So who would the JDB send to represent their claim if attorneys are not permitted. 

I didn't find the requirements necessary to request an attorney or what is involved. I did see where and attorney can be there to advise the plaintiffs representative but not actively participate. Oregon's Court System is weird.

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1 hour ago, HueyPilot said:

So who would the JDB send to represent their claim if attorneys are not permitted. 

You are missing the point.  States that do not allow attorneys in small claims court are seeking to keep that venue for average consumers to be able to avail themselves of access to the courts at a reasonable costs without the need for attorney.  Most attorneys refer to it as dog bite court or redneck divorce court.  In states that prohibit attorneys in small claims the law firm representing a client doesn't file in small claims.  They file in state court.  It is that simple.

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@ClydesmomI do see your analogy and more significantly why that is true. In Oregon like Minnesota its approximately 600.00 for both the plaintiff and/or the defendant to initiate/defend a civil case. Filing fee, answer fee, MTC fee, and 300.00 court appointed arbitration fee if private/contractual arbitration is not allowed. That's just to start. 

Now if the JDB's attorney could send one of their disbarred former attorney's without a license or other employee flunkee to represent the plaintiff it would only cost them 160.00 to file a suit in small claims court. It's a different dog in the hunt but potentially dangerous. Being most consumers don't fight the same ratio of 95% would result in default judgements and the JDB's profits would exponentially increase. What do you see that would prevent this strategy if allowed.

This could be a worse carnival then the Court Adjoined Dispute Resolution (ADR - kangaroo Court). 

 

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15 minutes ago, HueyPilot said:

@ClydesmomI do see your analogy and more significantly why that is true. In Oregon like Minnesota its approximately 600.00 for both the plaintiff and/or the defendant to initiate/defend a civil case. Filing fee, answer fee, MTC fee, and 300.00 court appointed arbitration fee if private/contractual arbitration is not allowed. That's just to start. 

Now if the JDB's attorney could send one of their disbarred former attorney's without a license or other employee flunkee to represent the plaintiff it would only cost them 160.00 to file a suit in small claims court. It's a different dog in the hunt but potentially dangerous. Being most consumers don't fight the same ratio of 95% would result in default judgements and the JDB's profits would exponentially increase. What do you see that would prevent this strategy if allowed.

This could be a worse carnival then the Court Adjoined Dispute Resolution (ADR - kangaroo Court). 

 

They don't and won't do that.  If attorneys are not allowed in small claims court, then they don't use small claims court.  They use regular court.

The filing fees don't concern them because they can recover the fees from the defendant.

They won't send a disbarred attorney because they CAN'T.  A disbarred attorney cannot practice law.  They can't represent a client.  And only a natural person can represent himself/herself.  JDBs are corporations which have to be represented by counsel.

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27 minutes ago, HueyPilot said:

@ClydesmomI do see your analogy and more significantly why that is true. In Oregon like Minnesota its approximately 600.00 for both the plaintiff and/or the defendant to initiate/defend a civil case. Filing fee, answer fee, MTC fee, and 300.00 court appointed arbitration fee if private/contractual arbitration is not allowed. That's just to start. 

Now if the JDB's attorney could send one of their disbarred former attorney's without a license or other employee flunkee to represent the plaintiff it would only cost them 160.00 to file a suit in small claims court. It's a different dog in the hunt but potentially dangerous. Being most consumers don't fight the same ratio of 95% would result in default judgements and the JDB's profits would exponentially increase. What do you see that would prevent this strategy if allowed.

This could be a worse carnival then the Court Adjoined Dispute Resolution (ADR - kangaroo Court). 

 

More likely, a corporation would be required to send one of its officers to represent the corporation in small claims court but no company is going to do that due to the expense and waste of time to send a corporate officer for a small claims case. More likely, they will file in civil/state court instead. A lawyer's office cannot send a former attorney to represent anyone in small claims court and especially one that does not have a license. Now, the JDB can send one of its employees (not the law office) but I am betting most states would require a company officer and how well would an employee be in court vs an individual.

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Per @WhoCares1000and @Clydesmomresponses I don't see plaintiff filing actions in Oregon's small claims Courts. I have seen some postings where small claims and justice courts have been referenced for suits in other states. Some appeared to be a real struggle and had to be appealed.  With the limited time allocated for these cases I was wondering how to best set up a winning defense if needed.

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2 hours ago, HueyPilot said:

With the limited time allocated for these cases I was wondering how to best set up a winning defense if needed.

Actually have a defense.  You are basing your hopes on tactics of years past.  I know you haven't been around here in a long time but the days of "just do/file this" and they will dismiss are LONG GONE.  From 2008-2014ish that worked.  The JDBs didn't have records as they didn't want to pay that expense when the portfolio's were purchased.  They were all hard copy and a HUGE expense and storage problem.  That went away when the digital era came in.  Now the portfolios come with all the records in digital format (cheap and easy to store) as well as the requirement the seller delete their trade line(s) so that counter claims are eliminated.  Defendants can no longer throw a list of defenses in an answer and rest assured that one or more will stick.  A bad case is a bad case.

You are wasting time and energy trying to try a case that hasn't been filed yet.  You need to calm down and relax.  They may never sue with covidiocy still ruling especially in Oregon.  If they file suit THEN come back here with how much, what court, who the OC was and the basis of their claim(s) then we can help with defenses.  Trying to do that now is merely guessing and neither accurate nor helpful.

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3 hours ago, HueyPilot said:

Per @WhoCares1000and @Clydesmomresponses I don't see plaintiff filing actions in Oregon's small claims Courts. I have seen some postings where small claims and justice courts have been referenced for suits in other states. Some appeared to be a real struggle and had to be appealed.  With the limited time allocated for these cases I was wondering how to best set up a winning defense if needed.

@Clydesmomhas explained quite a bit but you have to also understand how small claims court works. I usually describe it as Judge Judy without the attitude from the judge. You present your side of the case, the other presents their side of the case, and the judge decides. There is usually no discovery and the rules of evidence are very relaxed. That is one of the reasons that many states do not allow lawyers in small claims. That is also why in most (probably all) states, you can appeal to the civil court and get a trial de novo. Each state sets its own rules and some states allow corporations to be represented by attorneys and other states do not allow attorneys or even corporations to use small claims courts at all. You really need to understand what you state allows and don't allow. Even if the rules are looser than civil court, that does not mean that a judge will not enforce them so don't expect a JDB or their law firm to play fast and loose with the rules. After all, they have 100s of cases in front of these judges (who usually rotate) and the last thing they need is a pissed off judge to deal with.

Finally, we keep forgetting the white elephant on this board. The fact is, most of us really owe the money. Some of us simply refuse to pay for whatever reason and others cannot pay, for whatever reason. Now if the plaintiff cannot prove that we owe the money, that is their problem. If they can prove it, then it is our problem. Sometimes there is really no way to defend a well evidenced and prepared case by a plaintiff. The best option is to settle or bankruptcy. In other case, due to shoddy paperwork, lack of effort, or generous contract terms, we can win the cases. It is really dependent on many factors and we really cannot tell what ifs until things get going.

That said, most major JDBs are not going to try to skirt the rules so much anymore. They might make a mistake her or there but they have really cleaned up their act since the financial crisis and aftermath. Those who violate the rules these days are usually scammers who use fear more than anything else, are all bark and no bite, and don't care because you can't really track them down.

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