DISCLAIMER:This page is for informational purposes and while certain principals may be universal there are a number of variables at play. Nothing about reading this page creates and attorney/client relationship and is not advice for your specific case.
So you have been sued for a debt collection matter. This might be for a credit card debt, a post repossession deficiency, and in some cases for medical debt. This may have been brought by the original creditor or a debt buyer.
First of all you have made the right choice by seeking legal representation. One of the collection firms I frequently litigate against keeps records of their cases and they state that about 1.5% of the people that they sue hire an attorney that in their opinion knows what they are doing.
Time is of the essence. Depending on what court the lawsuit has been brought in you may have as few as 14 days to file a written response. This needs to be done by a professional.
People are often scared and or embarrassed when they are sued. As such they often feel the need to explain themselves or even apologize when they call. Forgive me if I seem to cut you off and start asking questions. It’s not that I am unsympathetic but please know that whatever brought you too me your circumstances are not unique, and frankly those factors rarely factor in to how a case plays out.
I need to know four or five basic pieces of information:
1. Who is the named Plaintiff?
This may have been a best buy account through Citibank but now someone like Midland Funding or Portfolio Recovery owns it. It may be a totally different analysis
2. What court are we in?
In Tarrant County alone there are 8 Justice of Peace Courts, 3 County Courts at law and 10 Civil District Courts. That’s 21 different Judge’s personalities, sets of procedures, and interpretations of the relevant case law.
3. Who are the lawyers?
There is usually a signature black on the last page of the petition. There are sometimes 2 or 3 different sets of lawyers who may represent a particular creditor. A Midland Funding or Portfolio Recovery Associates account with the in-house lawyers will have a different personality (And different settlement parameters) than one with Scott & Associates PC or Rausch Sturm.
What are my options?
While there are a number of factors to be considered here there are basically 3 options:
1. Settle 2. Fight 3. File Bankruptcy
Different levels of courts have different rules or standards of evidence. I’ve argued in most of the local courts and against most of the major players on the collection side. I have a good idea of what to expect in most of the courts in the area and I have a rapport with most of the collection attorneys in the area. The collectors have the burden of proof and there are potentially a number of legal and factual impediments to proving their case. I can help you evaluate whether or not a trial on merits is a good option.
No one wants to talk about the B word but if you have more than about $20,000.00 in unsecured debt than this is probably a conversation that we need to have.
I am James Foley PLLC and I have been doing debt defense in Fort Worth, Texas since 2008. If you have been sued for a debt please call me to discuss your case.