Follow-up1A – to People being Sued
If you are being sued, you probably don’t have a lot of time to make a decision about whether or how to defend yourself. But you do have enough time to make a careful decision, because making the right decision is important, right from the beginning, when you’re being sued.
Your first question has to be whether to fight the debt collectors – or to let them get an easy judgment. Since you’re reading this, you’ve probably decided to consider fighting. We have addressed the question of whether it makes sense to defend yourself many times. Here is just one sample (if you need it):
I obviously think you have an excellent chance of winning if you defend yourself. Now, of course nothing is guaranteed. When you’re dealing with the law, you are dealing with humans, and they can have prejudices that could affect you. If they follow the rules, you should almost always win. They – the courts and debt collectors – don’t always follow the rules, though, and they don’t always pay attention to you. So one of our main goals is to teach you how to MAKE them pay attention to you and follow the rules.
And then you use those rules to win. We’ll go into that a little more tomorrow, but today I want to remind you that, indeed, this thing works.
Here are a few things some of our members have said – you can find many more by looking at the comments to our videos on youtube, if you want.
Frank in Arizona
“Your materials are simply the best and finest anywhere for pro se defendants facing debt lawsuits.”
Frank was a single dad in Arizona who had developed some trouble paying his bills. The debt collectors harassed him for a while and then filed suit, asking for a large amount of money they said was owed, and attorneys’ fees on top of that, a total of over $15,000.
Naturally, he was very worried that they’d get a judgment and start garnishing his wages – and that the judgment would hang over him like a dark cloud. But he couldn’t afford a lawyer.
He joined us and filed an answer. With our help, he began the discovery process – and of course he encountered a stone wall with everything he did. The debt collectors are happy to file suit, but they’re never going to be reasonable about following the rules. No, they have to object to everything, almost randomly – they made claims of “attorney client privilege,” for example, for negotiations between the non-lawyer debt collector owners and the non-lawyer debt sellers. Lots of stuff like that.
We helped Frank work his way through all that.
Honestly, most debt collectors would have stopped at that – they were losing money as soon as he started fighting – but these guys were stubborn. They filed a motion for summary judgment.
Their motion made all the usual claims – that they could swear to records created by other people, that by negotiating he’d “admitted” owing money, and all the rest. It was scary, but it was BS.
With some guidance, Frank responded to the motion for summary judgment and beat it.
Beating a summary judgment motion just means you still have a trial, but it gives debt defendants a big edge. That’s because of the nature of the “proof” debt collectors always use. They don’t really have anything but records, records someone else made. Beat em at the summary judgment, and those records don’t look any better at trial – you’re going to win. But you still have the fight.
Meanwhile, two other debt collectors filed suit against Frank. He responded by answering the petition and beginning the process of defense. Frank actually laughed when he told me about it – he just wasn’t afraid of them anymore.
These collectors almost immediately dropped their lawsuits. They went away and have never been back.
After that, Frank was ready to move on with his life. He knew he could win, but he didn’t want to do the work to go to trial. He offered the initial debt collector $500 for a full settlement, including a removal of all credit references. They took him up on it, and Frank was ready to get on with his life.
Shirley P, in Detroit
“Yes, yes, yes. You were totally right about ‘strike hard and strike fast’ [our strategy on discovery]. Before court started today the debt plaintiff’s attorney asked me what I wanted, and I said dismissal with prejudice. He completed the papers and I was out of there in ten minutes.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that, “next to death, Americans fear getting sued more than anything.” Holmes was a Supreme Court Justice, and he knew what he was talking about. So what was Shirley, a middle-aged black woman in Detroit, going to think?
She was great. She decided to join us and fight despite her worries.
The debt collectors gave up when they saw what she sent them for discovery, just as easy as that – and after she’d been so scared.
Kelly from Utah
He just said: “I won.”
And what an understatement that was! Kelly was being sued by debt collectors for a large amount of money, and he had to go through the discovery process and fight off a motion for summary judgment. And still, the debt collector insisted on going to trial. By the time that happened, Kelly was thoroughly prepared, and he destroyed their evidence and got the case dismissed with prejudice.
By the time Kelly got to court, he knew the law better than the other side. We’d practiced what might get argued and what to say. He was thoroughly prepared, and he deserved to win, and did.
I don’t want to write a book here, but I’ll tell you a little more about these cases tomorrow. Something that might, but probably won’t, surprise you.