What Pro Se Debt Defendants Need to Know about Motions in Limine
You have learned, one way or another, that you are being sued for a debt. If so, you are in a club containing many millions of people, but you probably feel all alone. What do you do? And how do you do it? Where do you turn, and who can help?
Since you’re here, you know that WE can help. We help people beat the debt collectors and protect what’s theirs.
We don’t make any bones about it – we think that if you’re sued by a debt collector you have a great chance of winning. And if you lose, it hardly ever costs you anything more than not fighting would have done. If you want to settle, you always start by fighting because debt collectors never settle to make YOUR life easier, they only settle make themselves more profit, and if you fight you instantly drive the value of the suit down in their eyes. Thus you have everything to gain and little to lose in most situations. You should fight.
We’ve addressed this question many times in various posts, and we do in our First Response Kit, too. But for this article we’re just going to talk about the cost of a lawyer. For most of our members, the cost of a lawyer is the most important thing, and they are expensive.
The average lawyer in a city tries to make $200 per hour these days. They’re running a business, have a staff, and need to make a profit. In debt defense, they also know that not everyone is able to pay. Thus, those who do pay, have to pay more.
With $200 per hour as a target, the lawyer either has to charge you that as an hourly rate or create a flat fee that will, she hopes, bring that average return. Through it all, most people discussing legal fees with us say that lawyers are trying to get them to pay at least $2,500 for their cases. For most people, this is simply too much, and the lawyer will want much of that up-front. So lawyers are simply out of reach for most people in debt trouble.
But here’s the thing: debt law, unlike most kinds of law, is well-suited to pro se (self-representation) defense. And with a little help from us, you’ll know more than most lawyers you talk to will know about this kind of law anyway.
There are a few reasons debt law is good for pro se defense. First, debt law is mostly about rules of evidence. They’re going to want to get some records into evidence, and you’re going to want to stop them from doing that. If you can keep those records out and avoid a few basic mistakes, you should win. This is not the kind of law that involves extensive testimony or cross-examination – you won’t need to be brilliant. You will need to do basic things that you can learn – we can teach you.
The other main reason debt law is good for self-representation is economic. They want to make $200 per hour, but you don’t have to get that much. And the debt collector/lawyer is trying to get that from half of what he can collect from you (the debt buyer gets the other half), while you’re saving 100 percent of what you can save. Thus you can spend more time on the case. It’s your life, and it matters more to you than anyone else. Every time you do something to defend yourself the lawyer on the other side will be worried about whether she’ll get paid for working on your case – this is a big, big advantage.
Your defense will start with an answer or a motion. Our First Response Kit will guide you through that. We also suggest that you get right onto the process of discovery, and the First Response Kit will do as much to help make that easy for you as possible. It includes samples of all the documents you’ll probably need. You’ll have to do SOME work for sure, but it doesn’t get any easier for you than this.
A great place to start your defense is our First Response Kit. It helps you consider your chances of winning (vs. not fighting at all) and whether to fight, whether to get a lawyer, and if you’re going to represent yourself, how to do that. We get you started with a sample Answer and sample discovery that you can modify to fit your situation. This is as easy a way to get started with your defense as is possible. Read about it here.
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There’s a myth in America that people can move up in life more here than anywhere else. It is also widely believed that because of this social mobility there isn’t a conflict between the classes.
In recent times, those myths are coming a little bit under fire. Partly we can thank the Democratic Socialists for this – AOC has done a lot to highlight the vast differences in income between the poor and the rich, and she, and other politicians, are beginning to suggest various things that might be done to address those differences. This, of course, has alarmed the right wing and the wealthy, and they are talking a lot about class warfare, too, but the only thing they’re worried about, of course, is the possibility that they will be targeted for special taxation.
We take a different view and sometimes discuss what we believe are the true causes of the wealth inequality in America and what should be done about it. Our point in the video below, however, is just that there has been a class war going on for a long time – and it’s being waged by the rich against the poor.
And the poor are losing big time.
Two of the “trenches” of the current class war are in debt litigation and foreclosure law. Over the past few years, foreclosure has been a little less frequent, but we believe it will soon accelerate. Debt litigation has not slowed down as far as we can tell. The supposed boom in employment has not led to higher wages in real terms or in greater opportunities for the working classes – they’re falling further behind.
Pennsylvania has some very favorable, specific rules on what a debt collector must plead in order to bring a claim on a debt, and a procedure called “preliminary objections” that brings up these issues.
Despite the law imposing these requirements, the debt collectors ignore them, and chances are good that if you’re being sued in PA, they ignored them for you. That means that you can probably get the case kicked out by filing the appropriate Preliminary Objections. For more on this issue, see our materials related to the Pennsylvania Silver Bullet Pack below.
In addition to the pleading requirements, PA also has some very favorable law on the Account Stated claim that debt collectors like to use so often. An account stated claim, in general, requires that the plaintiff plead and prove that a normal billing relationship existed between the parties, that the plaintiff sent a bill (“accounting”) to which the defendant essentially agreed but did not pay. In most states, this “essential agreement” can be implied from almost nothing. In Pennsylvania, on the other hand, some real evidence of agreement needs to be produced. Of course, the debt collectors almost never have such evidence.
Pennsylvania Silver Bullet Pack – a great product that will stop most debt collectors – and a lot of other bad guys too – in Pennsylvania.
This will be a long-term project, as we begin to write more articles that will address issues that arise in specific states. We will eventually have member-only material catalogued here for greater convenience.
A powerful weapon in fighting debt collectors in California – the bill of particulars
Demanding a Bill of Particulars in California, Part 2
If you are in California, you have a powerful tool against the debt collectors – a request for a bill of particulars
California Bill of Particulars Pack – Californians have a tool, halfway between pleadings and discovery, that can force debt collectors to provide all the information you need to defend yourself from most of their claims. The bill of particulars will often make them drop all or part of their case – or to give you what you need to hammer them in court.
This will eventually be an article on small claims courts in Oklahoma.
Small claims courts are a frequent bane to debt defendants because they apply loose rules (of evidence and civil procedure) designed for pro se, unsophisticated parties disputing small amounts of money. Debt collectors, however, have discovered that these lax rules can make it easier for them to get even more default judgments and to win cases on obviously insufficient evidence. Oklahoma put a stop to that by enacting rules that forbid debt collectors from bringing their claims in small claims courts.
Of course this hasn’t stopped them.
Here is the rule: http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=438809
Here’s an article. There will be more: https://www.okbar.org/freelegalinfo/smallclaims/
Debt Collectors will do anything to get your money, and we have collected a large group of their more common tricks together into a “bestiary.”
Sign up below for more information, and we’ll send you the Bestiary of Debt Collector Dirty Tricks for free.
You have probably reached us because of a Youtube video we presented or some other social media outreach. And you probably know we have largely focused our efforts on people being sued for debt. (If you are being sued, now, for debt and want to defend yourself pro se, you should join us as a litigation member.)
What we hear, time after time, are variations on “I wish I’d heard about you, I did ______ that hurt my rights.” Or, often enough, they don’t realize that they DID hurt their rights. So our efforts have been to reach out to people BEFORE they get sued. And before they hurt their rights. That’s what our new Debt Guard memberships are about – we want to give people an opportunity to see information that will help them identify some of the dirty tricks out there. But more importantly, we want to give you the support and information you need to make the efforts necessary to protect your rights.
For our current purposes of identifying scams and protecting you from them, it doesn’t matter whether the person contacting you is some sort of a legitimate operator or a hoodlum in a basement in Russia. They’re going to tell you they’re calling on a debt, and they’re going to be sure you owe it. They won’t tell you they’re hoodlums – and even the legitimate debt collectors are not that far from being hoodlums. It’s a tough business, and the companies always walk right up to the line of legality, giving themselves the benefit of every doubt.
And they frequently step over the line – even the “legitimate” ones.
For five bucks a month, we’ll give you the information and support you need to protect your rights. If you need it, we’ll suggest and help you get a prepaid legal program that could save you the cost of a lawyer if you get sued. Or if you get sued, you’ll know where to turn for help in pro se defense.
But you don’t need to decide anything now. If you like, sign up and get the Bestiary of Debt Collector Dirty Tricks. There’s no obligation, just sign up below.