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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    4

    Question Being Sued For A Debt I Do Not Owe

    My question involves collection proceedings in the State of:Texas

    I am being sued by a lawfirm in small claims court for a debt that I do not owe. One day I received a summons to court from a lawfirm regarding a debt (credit card) I owed to a company I have never heard of. I have responded to the summons and even met in mediation with the lawyer who is filing the suit. The proof that they have as Exhibit "A" is what appears as a screen shot of some computer statement. There is not much on the statement other than my name, address, and social security number. There is an account number at the top but that means nothing to me. They also used this same computer screen to "validate" the debt.

    Our court date was May 2 (Friday 9:00 a.m.) and I appeared in court to contest the suit. (I am disabled and cannot afford a lawyer.) The plaintiff's lawyer lives in San Antonio, about 90 minutes drive to Austin. I called the court the day before to make sure that the case was still on and was told it was. When I appeared in court, the plaintiff's lawyer had filed a request for an extension that morning at about 7:30 a.m - court was at 9:00 a.m.

    The Judge was called me into the court and spoke privately to me from the bench, and said he had just received the request, the lawyer was not there, and he usually grants one extension to all his cases. He was annoyed at the circumstances and apologized to me and asked me if I would be willing to give the attorney's more time. I said yes, but only two weeks. He granted that. I could tell that this situation upset him.

    My questions are:
    1. If the attorney for the plaintiff does not appear in court for trial, can the judge rule in my favor? He said he could dismiss the suit, but they could just refile the suit against me again.
    2. How can someone collect a debt on a credit card when all they have is a computer screen snapshot and nothing more.
    3. It seems to me that to prove this debt (and all the interest and fees and other costs they state I owe) they need to show where I signed an agreement with the original creditor or at least where I made a purchase or some other documentation.
    4. If the lawyer for the plaintiff does not show up again, can I ask that the judge to dismiss the case or rule that the plaintiff has not proved her case. I don't want to have to go through all this again.

    It seems to me that it takes more than a few lines from a computer screen snapshot to prove that someone owes a debt. I do not know how they got my name and social number.

    Is this how the justice system works? I go back to court in about ten days.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Il.(near StL,Mo.)
    Posts
    5,252

    Default Re: Being Sued For A Debt I Do Not Owe

    If the attorney for the plaintiff does not show up the 2nd time, the judge will probably dismiss the case. However, they may or may not file suit against you again later.

    When you go to court, you will use as your defense (which is what I assume you put in your answer to the summons) that you do not believe the debt is yours & the attorney will have to prove that it is.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Being Sued For A Debt I Do Not Owe

    Thanks Betty. This certainly has been a wake up call for me on how the decks are stacked against the accused. I am learning more about debt collection than I ever cared to know.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    5,437

    Default Re: Being Sued For A Debt I Do Not Owe

    Quote Quoting jwr1949
    View Post
    Thanks Betty. This certainly has been a wake up call for me on how the decks are stacked against the accused. I am learning more about debt collection than I ever cared to know.
    Insist on a trial.

    99% of the time, the creditor won't send a witness and you can ask that it be dismissed WITH prejudice. Those are magic words. Print this and take to court for your cue card.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default Re: Being Sued For A Debt I Do Not Owe

    Definitely ask for dismissal with prejudice. (If a case is dismissed without prejudice, it can be refiled. A case dismissed with prejudice cannot be refiled.)

    The 'cue card' is a good idea - it's easy to get the two words ("with" and "without") reversed in your head and you want to make sure you ask for the right one ("with").

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Il.(near StL,Mo.)
    Posts
    5,252

    Default Re: Being Sued For A Debt I Do Not Owe

    Good ideas SJ & Aaron.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Being Sued For A Debt I Do Not Owe

    The plaintiff's attorney's filed a motion by mail today requesting a "non-suit without prejudice" with the court. I got a copy in the mail and immediately filed an written objection to the judge and hand delivered it to the court. I objected to the ruling of "without prejudice", and I asked for a ruling of "WITH prejudice".

    I did everything that the judge asked of me. However, the plaintiff's attorney failed to show up on the court date, filing a request for an extension 90 minutes before the trial. This case was filed in January, and this is May. One would think that if they had some evidence that I had a debt obligation that I was not paying, whey would have presented it by not.

    I am not trying to skip out on a debt that I legally owe, and I take my obligations seriously. However, they have the wrong person and cannot prove that the debt is mine.

    So why did they file the suit in the first place?

    I will keep y'all informed what the outcome is. Thanks to everyone who helped me in this matter.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Being Sued For A Debt I Do Not Owe

    Final note on the outcome of the suit.

    On the two days before the second trial was to start in Justice Court, the attorney for the plaintiff files a Notice of Non-Suit Without Prejudice under TRCP 162. I filed a protest on the motion with the court because I wanted to see the evidence they had that proved my liability.

    On the day of the hearing, the Judge called me into his chambers and told me that the case was out of his hands and (after calling several of his colleagues) he had no choice in the matter other than to grant the motion filed by the plaintiff's attorney. We talked for a while, and I was struck by his final comment "I don't like it when debt collectors use the courts to try to collect their debts."

    I will never know how they associated my name with this unpaid bill. The statute of limitations expires in October, and I rather doubt they will to refile suit. I am moving to Colorado in a couple of weeks, and that will be another story.

    On my way out of the office, I noticed in the Judge's waiting room approximately 30 people waiting for their cases to be heard.

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