How to Defend a Credit Card Lawsuit

The sheriff shows up at your door with a credit card lawsuit. Yikes! What do you do? There are probably better ways to start your day, but I wouldn’t stress out about it either. If you need help, contact us for a free consultation. If you are thinking about representing yourself, keep reading.

Don’t panic. If misery loves company, you have lots of company. Credit card lawsuits are filed against thousands of Iowans every year. Go to Iowa Courts Online and type in Midland Funding, Portfolio Recovery Associates, or Unifund. You will soon see what I mean. Debt buyers including Midland Funding and Portfolio Recovery Associates are collecting lots of debt in Iowa– debt they paid less than two cents on the dollar for. I bet they want a lot more than that from you, don’t they? Fortunately, there are defenses to almost all credit card lawsuits. Even if defenses are limited, most debt collection lawsuits can be settled for far less than the amount demanded–frequently with reasonable payments and without a judgment against you.

Whatever you do, do not ignore the lawsuit and default. Over 90 percent of Iowans sued on debt collection lawsuits do just that. The result is unnecessary judgments entered against them. If you default, you will owe the full amount demanded plus court costs. Wage and bank garnishments are likely to follow. You need to file an answer to the lawsuit. You would be wise to take advantage of our free initial consultation to discuss your personal situation and options. Simply send in our contact form or call us. How hard is that?

If you decide to draft and file your own answer, that is definitely better than doing nothing. Congratulations! If you can figure out Iowa electronic filing and get the answer filed, at least you didn’t default on the lawsuit. Unfortunately, you almost certainly did your answer wrong by admitting allegations you should not have or by failing to raise proper affirmative defenses and counterclaims–but at least you filed an answer. You get credit for that in my book. Now that you have your answer filed, please contact us for your free consultation. We can probably still straighten out the mess you just made by striking your answer and amending it. Don’t despair–I don’t know how to do your job either. 🙂

OK. You decided not to call me. Maybe you will later. Let’s get back to your attempt at being a consumer lawyer and see if I can help you. If you are in Iowa District Court, after you file your answer the debt collector’s attorney will probably contact you to get the discovery plan and scheduling order entered. They may also attempt to settle the debt with you. Of course, you would be wise not to talk to them, but you need to talk to them so you can get the discovery plan entered and get a trial date. What should you do? Contacting us for help would be one option. Another would be to talk to the collection attorney. If you do that, do not tell them where you work or bank or agree to let them have a judgment against you. By talking to them you confirmed you are alive, responding to them and that they have your attention. Remember how you have complained nobody ever pays attention to you? Somebody is now. Your file just moved to the top of their pile. That may not be good. It depends what you do next. You do know what to do next, right? Sending discovery might be a good idea. It depends.

Around this time the debt collection attorney will be sending you discovery. This will include interrogatories, requests for admissions and requests for production. You will need to answer the requests for admission within the time allowed by the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure or they will be deemed admitted. “Deemed admitted” is not good. Making admissions you should not be making is not good either. But then, you can be sanctioned for not admitting something you should have. Some discovery requests warrant objections. You need to know what you are doing when you send or respond to discovery. There is still time to contact us if you can find a few minutes to spare from digging yourself a deeper ditch.

If contacting us is really not an option, and you still think you can represent yourself, it is now time to mark your calendar for six months–maybe a little less.That is when you will need to redo your budget to make room for the creditor’s wage or bank garnishment against you. Or, … contact us. We may still be able to help, but time is running out.

So you didn’t contact us, and now the debt collection attorney has filed a motion for summary judgment against you. This DEFINITELY is not good. You need to respond to the motion. If you do not, the good news is at least you don’t have to search the internet to learn how to do a trial. The bad news is there is no trial because you just lost your case. There are time limits as to when you have to respond to a motion for summary judgment and there are legal requirements you have to comply with. You need affidavits, a resistance and probably a memorandum or brief on the factual and legal issues you are raising in defense. Now would be a good time to argue the affirmative defenses you raised in your answer, such as a defective right to cure notice, the credit card bank never sent a right to cure notice or that the debt is time barred, etc., etc. You did raise affirmative defenses in your answer didn’t you? At this point you are probably close to going down for the third time, but you could still contact us and see if we can throw you a life preserver. I have done that many times before for consumers at this stage, but I am a lawyer, not a miracle worker. There are limits. Even so, we still might be able to help. Contact us. We really would like to hear from you.

Did you send your own discovery? Did the creditor respond? Have you filed a motion to compel? One client representing herself filed her own motion to compel. Impressive! I didn’t learn how to do that until my second year of law school. She learned how to do it on the internet in one paragraph from someone on a message board. We were VERY impressed indeed when we heard she had filed her own motion to compel. Unfortunately, we later learned she had not yet sent the plaintiff any discovery before she filed the motion to compel. If you don’t know why that’s a problem, for the love of God, contact us.  🙂

Ok. You are still thinking law school is overrated and you are confidently headed to the courthouse for the hearing on the creditor’s motion for summary judgment. Don’t wear blue jeans or shorts to the courthouse. Leave your gun at home. Turn your cell phone off. You might think your Motley Crew Girls, Girls, Girls ringtone is all about it, but it’s possible the judge might not. I think the fine for contempt for letting a cell phone ring is $250.

But back to your case. So you didn’t answer the requests for admissions and the judge said something about the requests all being deemed admitted. WTF! The creditor’s attorney was making some noises about account stated while you were demanding they come up with proof you signed a credit application and you wanted verification of the account and the credit card receipts (you saw that somewhere on the internet). Things seemed to be going great for you until the judge granted the creditor’s motion for summary judgment. WTF!

You are thinking about doing your own appeal. I’m sure there is something on the internet that can help you–posted by someone who has never done an appeal in his life, but who has seen several episodes of Judge Judy. What could possibly go wrong?

At this point, I am tempted to say don’t call us, but we still might be able to help by settling the debt for you. Maybe call us for that second credit card that is in default?

I am not an auto mechanic, but sometimes I work on my own car. Once I was changing my own oil and drained out the transmission fluid instead. Did you know you put transmission fluid in a Toyota by pumping it up into the truck? I didn’t. I can’t do your job. I would make a mess of it. At the Johnson law Firm, we do, however, know how to file an answer and respond to a motion for summary judgment. We know every major debt collection law firm in Iowa and we routinely settle debts with them. If you get sued, we don’t abandon you like the debt settlement company you may have sent boat loads of money to. If an unfair debt collection counterclaim is warranted, we know how to bring it and we will–unlike the credit counseling agency you are working with who is funded by the same creditors who are suing you. Maybe you are working with Consumer Credit of Des Moines, the credit counseling agency funded by creditors that runs tv ads comparing you and your debt issues to a child who eats too much candy and gets sick, as opposed to how we view you–the adult who incurred medical debt, went through a divorce or lost a job, possibly after credit card banks crashed the world economy and then exploded your credit card and sued you for not paying them, all after they received billions of your tax dollars to bail them out. Your mistake was not having three lobbyists for every member of Congress. You didn’t donate a few million dollars to the Senators and Congressman who write the laws that regulate consumer credit transactions? You should have known better. Plan ahead next time. 🙂

Did you know many of the leading consumer credit cases in state and federal court in Iowa were brought by the Johnson Law Firm? Did you know I still have transmission fluid all over my driveway? My wife does. I’m good at my job–not so good at yours. You are good at your job–not so good at doing mine. I sure could have used a free initial consultation before working on my car. Click here for a free initial consultation on your debt collection matter.

At the Johnson Law Firm we are proud of what we do. Our clients are good people who probably have fallen on hard times. Even the worst of situations are generally temporary. We make no apologies for you being in debt or for zealously representing you against a credit card bank. We don’t think of you as a self-indulgent little kid who should be blamed for your situation. When’s the last time you crashed the world economy? What did you do with YOUR taxpayer funded billion dollar bailout?

If you are sued by a debt collector, a debt buyer or a credit card bank, contact us. The sooner the better. We are here to help.