GF being sued Need help

Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by illinimike, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    My girlfriend is being sued by a local collection agency for a past due hospital and emergency room bill and has received a subpoena. The amount they are suing for is around 8500.00. For some reason her insurance did not pay anything for the hospital-they did pay the surgeon-but I think they will cover about 3500 of this bill.

    We are responsible for this bill and will undoubtedly have to pay at least the emergency room portion. She has no savings, no car, no real estate, shares a joint checking account with me and her job pay barely over minimum wage so my concern is that they will garnish her wages-something she cannot afford at this time.

    We are willing to pay this bill but, as is obvious, we will need them to work with us. This collection agency has a reputation as being merciless and, as we (she) is responsible for the bill I see no recourse. Can anyone offer any advice or strategy to avoid wage garnishment and arrive at a working compromise?
  2. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    One other question. The guy who served the subpoena apparently got the wrong apartment the day he served the subpoena. So he called her on the phone demanding to know where she lived. Well, there was a strange guy on the phone wanting to know where she lived so she hung up. He called back, again and again. I finally talked with the guy, he said he wanted to serve a subpoena, threatened to serve it on her at work accompanied by the police and threatened to have her arrested for "avoiding a subpoena". That was enough for her so we provided directions. I met him at the door and he again claimed to me that he could have her arrested for "avoiding a subpoena" and claimed to have the "forms" in his car. Forms that he never showed me and I doubt exist.

    Is there such a charge for a civil suit? A criminal charge I could see but I'm a bit skeptical about this claim.
  3. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    Is her situation hopeless?
  4. JoshuaHeckathorn

    JoshuaHeckathorn Administrator

    Are you talking about being served with a summons? I'm not a lawyer, but I was confused a bit when you referenced a subpoena, which is generally served when someone is notified about having to testify in court as a witness. Anyway, I'll assume you're talking about a summons since you mention that the CA is suing her for this old medical debt.

    And no, her situation isn't helpless. But you do need to respond to the summons and also try to negotiate payment with the CA if possible. Of course, you can choose to either do this on your own or speak with a good consumer protection lawyer that has experience in these matters. That's up to you, but you won't need to worry about any garnishment of her wages until the CA actually obtains a judgment. That obviously won't happen if you're able to negotiate payment, and most CAs will be quite open to this as opposed to going to court.

    I would also follow up with the insurance company to make sure you have a clear understanding about what was paid, what wasn't paid, and why it wasn't paid. Insurance companies make mistakes all the time, so you need to stay on top of that, and you're going to need the documentation anyway.
  5. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    Yes, I did mean summons. Sorry, it was late when I posted that.

    This particular CA is brutal. I had some dealings with them years ago and I doubt they have changed. They will want payment now or they will go after her wages.

    As she has no property to put a lein on, etc, their only choice is deal or go for a garnishment. I suspect that the judge will ask her and the CA to try to come to an agreement. They, the CA, will likely refuse any agreement other than instant payment or make an agreement then a month later claim she defaulted and go after garnishment.

    She is working on the insurance. I suspect a mistake by the lady at work who handles the insurance.

    Thanks for replying Joshua.
  6. squidzilla

    squidzilla Well-Known Member

    Who is the CA in question?
  7. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    A local company RRCA-Illinois corporation.

    In addition to the bill of $8,589.83 they want interest, court costs and $200 attorney fees.
  8. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    There is also some sort of sheet attached to the summons that says, "Appearance Needs to be filed and paid for prior to First court hearing in the circuit clerk's office and it list the fees for under $15,000 as $100.

    Never heard of having to pay to appear in court.
  9. ccbob

    ccbob Well-Known Member

    If it's a summons, you MUST respond (for your own good and to avoid, or at least defer a summary judgement.

    I don't know the procedure, but you might dispute the amount in that it's probably not what the hospital would charge the insurance company. In your discovery, you might try to find out what the "insurance price" would be. So even though you might have to pay something, you might be able to get the amount reduced.

    Remember, that they can't go after anything until they get a judgement.
  10. ccbob

    ccbob Well-Known Member

    One other thing...

    I would get her off your checking account until this is all settled. If they do get a garnishment order, they might come after your account because it has her name on it. Even if they can't, that doesn't mean they won't.

    It might be a little awkward for a while, but it beats waking up on the day after payday to find they've cleaned you out.
  11. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    Now, I assume that this first appearance is simply to say, yes we wish to contest this, or no we don't, then a trial date is set. Is that correct?
  12. Dumb Bob

    Dumb Bob Well-Known Member

    Usually they mean by "appear" that you would respond to the court and the plaintiff that you are interested in the case and want all documents, hearing dates, etc., provided to you. This is a good idea since otherwise you'll not know what is going on.

    Generally, before you get to a trial, which is actually rather rare, you'll need to avoid a default judgment and survive their attempt at a summary judgment.

    First on your list of things to do: Find your court rules. Ask at the court to make sure you have the correct ones.
  13. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    Thanks everyone.

    Anyone know anything about this "appearance fee" If I understand the attached correctly we must pay a $100.00 fee before we even sit foot in the courtroom.
  14. billbauer

    billbauer Well-Known Member

    Yes, many courts require that now and I've heard that some courts even charge as much as $300.

    We are still pretty lucky here in Oklahoma. Filing a response to a summons costs nothing but there is a $60 fee for each motion that is filed. Costs are going up constantly and courts are strapped for cash.
    I've been sued here in Oklahoma City and so far have not had to file any motions. I'm sure I will before it is all said and done. I will definitely want to file a motion for summary judgment against the plaintiff before the case comes to trial so in order to teach them a little lesson I'll file that in forma pauperous. The lesson being if nothing else one of how do you expect to collect any money out of someone who can file motions in forma pauperous?

    I doubt that they will have smarts enough to even think of that but I'll be certain to send them a copy of the application to file forma pauperous just to see if that might cause them to wake up and die right. I haven't noticed that they are particularly bright as of yet so I have my doubts that will make them any difference at all.

    If they haven't the brains to figure out that they aren't going to get any money out of me I'll enforce the point on them with my informal bankruptcy filing. When they get that they will really howl. I'll file that in forma pauperous as well. That means they will get served by a U.S. Marshall and not a regular process server. That ought to really turn their crank a round or two. (LOL)
  15. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    That really does not sit well with me, having to pay a fee in order to exercise a Constitutional Right. What's next, a fee in order to vote!
  16. Dumb Bob

    Dumb Bob Well-Known Member

    There may be some way to file without paying if the person doesn't have the money. But without a good read of the rules, this will remain unknown. In any case, it would seem unlikely that one could seriously fight a lawsuit without spending any money at all. Even if the outcome is only delayed, this might buy the time needed for settlement.
  17. billbauer

    billbauer Well-Known Member

    Sounds to me like the poster is just unhappy about having to pay the $100 to file a response. I didn't see anything saying that the poster couldn't afford it or even that he didn't have that much money. So if he can't afford it because of a low income problem he might be able to file in forma pauperous. Just depends on how much his GF makes. He could be making a bundle every day but if she makes little then she can easily qualify so long as he isn't visible to the court.

    DBob says that delaying the outcome to gain time to try to settle might suit some or even many folks but if that were the only reason to file then they mgiht as well just save the time and expense and let it go to a default. On the other hand, if time is needed for his IRS refund to come in that could be a reason to try to delay. On the other hand there are better reasons to file a response and as many motions as possible than that. In my instant situation I demanded validation of the lawyer and get back a letter stating how much I owed and to whom I owe to whom I owe it. That is not even close to the requirements of the FDCPA so anything they do after that becomes illegal continued collection activity.

    They filed a lawsuit which became violation #2. They filed the lawsuit for a lesser amount of money than they said I owed in their so called validation response. That would constitute misrepresentation of the amount of the debt which is a violation of another totally different section of FDCPA and violation #3.

    They caused me to be served with a summons and complaint which would be further illegal continued collection activity and violation #4.

    They may possibly serve me with at least 3 discovery demands and each of those would constitute 3 more violations. If they do that we would then be up to violation #7. But for the moment let's assume they don't do that.

    Rather let's assume they move for default judgment based on their assumption that I didn't file a response. If they do that then we would have violation #5. The deadline to file falls on a Sunday so I'll file my response about 4:45 P.M. the Friday before and hope they think I failed to file in time. Either way they will have to file a motion of some kind and that will be violation #6.

    Of course, there is also the chance that if they do send me discovery demands and I don't respond to them they will try to compell discovery. I really don't think they will get that dumb but who knows.

    What ever they do will be violation #7. I might have to file an objection if they do that and they will have to respond making violation #8. I'll probably file a motion for summary judgment a time or two in the process and get me a couple more violations.

    Once it becomes obvious that I can't win then and only then will I suggest a settlement and get me a couple more violations.

    So yes, I'll gladly try to buy as much extra time as possible in order to reach a settlement with them. Of course the settlement I'll be talking about is how much they are going to pay me and we will settle that little matter in federal court. Now that is the way to file bankruptcy. Informal bankruptcy that is.
  18. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    I found a little online article in our local paper regarding this CA that I thought some of you might find interesting.

    "Reese, arrested after a traffic stop, was wanted in connection with a 2008 small claims case in which RRCA Accounts Management, Inc. secured a nearly $10,000 judgment against her, according to court records at online."

    Now, based on this article can I assume that the police now go after people with a civil suit judgment.

    The board will not all me to post the url but I will PM the url if anyone is interested or they can search Google for and look in the local news for the article "Freeport woman dies in police custody"
  19. illinimike

    illinimike Member

    Thanks Bill, I'm grateful for the ressponse but I'm not certain I know enough to get through the first appearance without messing it all up. Any advice on what I should do and how to go about it?
  20. billbauer

    billbauer Well-Known Member

    The first thing you have to remember and watch out for is that in reality it is not your problem but rather that of your GF so her problem is being able to handle the situation in court and your problem is dealing with her bad hair day. (LOL)

    One of the requirements is to look at any little quirk in the case as an opportunity to attack. Let's take a little example. Suppose that an attorney sends you a letter demanding $10,500 (for instance). In your court system any case for more than $10,000 must be brought in district court while any case for less than that amount must be brought in small claims court. When the lawyer files the case it is dropped to $9,500 and therefore into small claims court? Now I know that if somebody owed me $10,500 that is the amount I want, not $1,000 less than what is owed to me. Now then, why would a lawyer do that? There has to be a reason. It isn't likely that the lawyer made a mistake and misread the figures. So what is the reason? That single fact could be vital to my defense and my ability to fight so I must have the answer, right?

    There could be a number of reasons and quite frankly I would deeply appreciate some further insights from those who read this forum and this message. So what are the reasons I might think of?
    (1.) Discovery isn't allowed in small claims court, but why would a lawyer be afraid of discovery? What questions could I as a defendant possibly ask that any competent attorney could not respond to easily? Quite frankly, I can't think of any so unless somebody can come up with some really burning bush questions I have to rule out the idea that the lawyer is afraid of me and any discovery questions or demands for production of documents that I might make.
    (2.) Judges are assigned to small claims cases on a rotational basis. One judge presides over all small claims cases for a month and then another judge presides over small claims cases the next month. There are at least 3 or 4 judges in the wheel and one of them has a reputation of being a real bear to deal with from the defendant's standpoint while another has a proven record of bending over backwards to be as fair and kind as possible to defendants. The lawyer files the case in a month during which the fairest judge will handle the case. Lawyers all know all the judges very well so why would a lawyer choose to file with the judge least likely to rule favorably for the defendant if at all possible? Is it possible that we have an illegal judge shopping situation going on here?
    I'm going to have to research that possibility. I can do that easily by looking at the lawyer's record to see if that might be the case. I can pull every case the lawyer has ever filed and see which judges the lawyer favors if indeed any pattern exists. If a clear pattern emerges then I can wait till the final day and file a claim of illegal judge shopping if indeed that might be proven. I'd hate to end up chunking the good judge and getting the bear on the return trip but since I'm bound to lose anyway I guess that really wouldn't make much difference.
    (3.)The lawyer and the judge have some special relationship going on outside of court. Could be but if so that would be extremely difficult to prove and maybe even dangerous to attempt to prove and allege.

    Maybe it was just accidental and my investigation will turn up nothing untoward but it is an investigation I will have to engage in. There simply has to be a reason why the price was dropped besides the thought that the lawyer was just trying to be nice to me and give me a small break and I'm going to at least have to look into finding a reason why the lawyer dropped the price just enough to get it into small claims court then added in costs to get the final figure back up to well over $10,000. Lawyers just don't do things like that without a solid reason and I have to try to figure out what that reason is.

    But I bring that up because it illustrates the point that defendants need to look at each and every piece of their puzzle and their minds need to operate like a steel bear trap in order to even stand a chance of getting out of a judgment and the subsequent freezing of their bank accounts, garnishment of their wages and seizure of their other assets such as vehicles and other personal property.

    Debtors need to think way ahead. They need to start that thinking process as soon as they know they are going to default on any debt. They need to know what is likely to happen to them long before it happens and they need to start thinking about protecting their incomes, bank accounts and other assets from garnishment and seizure. In short, they need to understand that they need to either pay up quickly or file formal bankruptcy or use informal bankruptcy techniques.

    As for me, I'll choose informal bankruptcy every time because I know that if I can't pay up for whatever reason then I have only two other choices left. If I choose formal bankruptcy I will most likely end up having to pay all that a court of law says that I must pay over the next 5 years or I will be right back in the same mess I am in now. I don't relish the idea of having to eat Ramen Noodles for the next 5 years plus get a huge black mark on my public record that I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

    If I choose the informal bankruptcy route I know that I will most likely be able to get the judgment vacated, get my court costs paid, get my credit at least partially repaired, and maybe get a few thousand cash in my pocket on top of that. I also know that I probably won't get rid of the adverse listings from the original creditor but so what? No big deal. I don't need personal credit when I have excellent corporate credit to take its place.

    But back to your immediate problem. You can't speak for your GF in court. She may or may not do a good job of defending in court. Most defendants do a poor job of defending in court and I don't claim to be any better. Standing up in court and thinking on your feet isn't all that easy. Defendants lose in court at least 99 percent of the time so what chance do I have of beating those odds? Almost none. So what am I to do, just give up and don't even bother to go to court because I can't win anyway? Not me. I know I'm going to lose the battle but I certainly don't plan on losing the war.

Share This Page