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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    10

    Default Signing Under Duress

    I have posted on here regarding an outstanding balance with a fraternity and a collection agency that is pushy and threatening suit. My first course of action was to have the debt verified. I received the itemized account statement showing where dues were charged, and payments were received as well as a contract between me and the fraternity with my signature on it. While I do not deny signing it, there is one thing I noticed while reviewing it - the date. I do not recall signing this document back in January 2007, but after looking over it, I understood why. This document was given to me for my signature on the date I was initiated into the fraternity. Of course, that day was a very nerve wracking day. I will not go into details, since my intent is not to get the fraternity in trouble with hazing allegations, but to have this debt cleared. I signed this document after several hours of physical, mental, and emotional abuse including but not limited to being blindfolded for several hours. Why would I not sign something when they asked me to? I was scared. I was nowhere near my right state of mind that afternoon. However, how do I prove this? No brother will be willing to admit what happened that day, it may jeopardize their freedom and/or standing. I am not out to get anyone in trouble, I mean that. I told the current president and other officers that I do not think I could afford the dues during rush in 2006, before I was even offered a bid. They knew that my finances were shaky and told me to come aboard anyway. Five months later, I am signing a contract holding me liable for unpaid dues after a day in living hell and 3.5 years following that, I'm facing a possible lawsuit. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Somewhere near Canada
    Posts
    27,297

    Default Re: Signing Under Duress

    No proof = no defense = pay the bill.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    27,775

    Default Re: Signing Under Duress

    my thoughts are you pay the bill and move on with life. If you want to argue duress, fine but how do you explain remaining in the frat for the next 3 1/2 years? One most definitely is in contrast to the other.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Signing Under Duress

    Is it possible for someone to testify anonymously or must they reveal their name before taking the stand? I know many people who would surely testify to the events that occurred so long as they were sure their identity would not be revealed. Also, do I wait until they bring suit or do I start the lawsuit on the basis of duress? I am claiming duress due to the fact that I legally entered a contract that required me to pay the fraternity dues although I expressly knew that there would be no way for me to pay them (I financed the entirety of my own college education). I shared this concern with the officers of the fraternity, and they ensured me that something would be worked out. If I knew this is what they had in mind, then I would not have signed the contract. Also, there are about $800 worth of charges that were made PRIOR to the date that I signed the contract. If it is decided that the contract was not signed under duress, should I be required to pay those fees? And the payments that I did make, totaling about $1000 are mostly credited to my account as "Reimbursement" rather than actual payments. Something fishy must have been going on where they did not actually want to disclose that I was making payments (probably to dodge finance charges from Omega Financial). Thanks for your input.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Somewhere near Canada
    Posts
    27,297

    Default Re: Signing Under Duress

    Really - if this is what you really want to attempt you're going to need an attorney.

    Not an internet forum.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    27,775

    Default Re: Signing Under Duress

    =letmebe;441292]Is it possible for someone to testify anonymously or must they reveal their name before taking the stand? I know many people who would surely testify to the events that occurred so long as they were sure their identity would not be revealed.
    well, let's see how this might go on the stand. The plaintiff is now questioning your witness:

    Ok, mr X, you say the OP was coerced into signing, right

    (affirmative repsonse)

    Ok, how do you know this?

    (I was there?)


    Oh, are you a member of this frat

    (yes)

    well, how do we know you are a member of this frat?

    (dumb look)

    can you give us your name?

    (I was assured I wouldn't have to)

    Ok, but we can see you setting there on the stand and since the plaintiffs were in the frat at the same time as the time we are speaking about, don't you think being here yet not giving your name and expecting nobody to know who you are is a bit silly? I mean, they did call you by name when they saw you.
    -------------------

    oh, did you expect them to wear black hoods and have their voice altered like they do on those TV shows where the reporter is interviewing a mafia guy?


    For gosh sakes guy, this is $1500. Just pay the damn bill and quit living in fantasy world.


    Also, do I wait until they bring suit or do I start the lawsuit on the basis of duress?
    you have to present it as a defense.

    I am claiming duress due to the fact that I legally entered a contract that required me to pay the fraternity dues although I expressly knew that there would be no way for me to pay them (I financed the entirety of my own college education).
    sorry, that is not duress. That is lying.


    I shared this concern with the officers of the fraternity, and they ensured me that something would be worked out.
    so, what did they say when you brought this up every time they asked for the dues payment?

    If I knew this is what they had in mind, then I would not have signed the contract.
    but the fact remains you did sign it but now you just blew your duress defense. Now you say if you new you would have to pay (just like the contract says) you would not have signed the contract. That means you felt you had a choice in signing the contract. That means no duress defense.

    Also, there are about $800 worth of charges that were made PRIOR to the date that I signed the contract.
    so? are you saying they are not your bill?

    If it is decided that the contract was not signed under duress, should I be required to pay those fees?
    if they are your debt as well, yes.

    And the payments that I did make, totaling about $1000 are mostly credited to my account as "Reimbursement" rather than actual payments.
    and? any idea what that means?

    Something fishy must have been going on where they did not actually want to disclose that I was making payments (probably to dodge finance charges from Omega Financial).
    that is irrelevant to you owing them money.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    9,085

    Default Re: Signing Under Duress

    The Constitution allows the defendant to face his/her accuser.
    All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
    - Mark Twain

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Signing Under Duress

    Is there anyone out there with some debtor-friendly advice? Or is it hopeless? I am so appalled that my fraternity pushed this as far as they did. In the end, this is keg beer money. It's not as though I entered a contract with a bank to finance a vehicle or something. I am sorry if I am not being clear about the circumstances in my posts, but it is hard to convey exactly what I mean. In my previous post, I meant to say that I was under the assumption that the officers of the fraternity and I would be sure that dues were never an issues, as stated by them previously. As a matter of fact, I even remember the treasurer telling all of us that our signature on this paper was just a formality. They were always friendly with us about helping us out if we cannot afford our dues - I mean, it's a fraternity, not a business deal. Had I known that I would be sent to a creditor the day I could not make ends meet, then I would not have joined the fraternity. I was under the assumption, due to their statements, that dues would never be an issue - that this was an association of brotherhood, etc....etc....Now I am faced with a possible judgment if I don't come up with $1500. I'm glad some of you see this as a small debt, but when you have $45,00 in student loan debt and barely make any money, then maybe you would understand why this is so devastating to me. I am a recent college graduate looking for employment in one of the worst recessions in American history - do you honestly think I have the capability to come up with $1500? I don't care what you say either, but if you had been blindfolded for hours on end and treated like scum, I highly doubt you would contest the signing of a document at the time it was signed. So, I would appreciate it if someone could really try and help me out instead of belittling me because I'm in a "fantasy world" and not paying the debt of "only" $1500. Any help or further feedback of course would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    27,775

    Default Re: Signing Under Duress

    As a matter of fact, I even remember the treasurer telling all of us that our signature on this paper was just a formality.
    he didn't lie. Signing a contract is a formality; a formality that allows the contract to be binding.

    They were always friendly with us about helping us out if we cannot afford our dues - I mean, it's a fraternity, not a business deal
    I can just about assure you it is a business deal. I would imagine there is an XYZ fraternity inc. that is a business that is the frat.

    .Now I am faced with a possible judgment if I don't come up with $1500. I'm glad some of you see this as a small debt, but when you have $45,00 in student loan debt and barely make any money, then maybe you would understand why this is so devastating to me.
    In the overall scheme of life, it is a small debt. If you doubt it, compare it to the $45k you owe for school. Small in comparison?

    I don't care what you say either, but if you had been blindfolded for hours on end and treated like scum, I highly doubt you would contest the signing of a document at the time it was signed.
    I already addressed this. If you had dropped from the frat or argued against the contract then, you would be a lot more believable. You continued to be a member of the frat and you even state you made some payments towards the debt. If you wanted to attempt to invalidate the contract, you would not have done either of those actions.

    Any help or further feedback of course would be much appreciated.
    Your fantasy world is in reference to the methods you suggest in trying to escape this debt. You need to quit watching so much television and believing that is how the real world works. It's not.

    Sorry, if I saw something that I though was a viable defense, I would say so. I simply do not see any valid defense to their claim.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Signing Under Duress

    I don't think you understand what I'm trying to say. I never intended to enter into a legally binding contract with them. You honestly don't think a judge would negate the contract knowing what conditions it was signed under? I didn't sign while sitting at a desk. I signed with a ripped shirt, stains of blood and sweat covering my body, and incredibly exhausted from what I would consider torture, seriously. I fully intended to stay in the fraternity. I intended to pay dues. I did not want to be legally bound to pay the dues since I knew there was no way on God's green earth that I could come up with $600 each semester while trying to pay for the other expenses of college. I wanted to be in the fraternity. I wanted to pay my dues to the best of my ability. I knew from day one that it would be totally impossible for me to pay the entirety of my dues, so did the officers. By stating it was a formality, they were implying that they, of course, would never ruin our lives for inability to pay the debt. They have since rescinded their stance and I am facing a lawsuit. I cannot pay today, I won't be able to pay tomorrow, and even if a judge writes an order requiring me to pay (which will also include attorney's fees), I will still be unable to pay. Where am I supposed to get this money? I need to fight this and need help. What can I do? I am about to have my financial future ruined over the, as you say, small debt of just $1500. Please help.

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