Often here on my blog I will discuss some of the more technical legal arguments that can help you win your case against junk debt buyers. However, in a surprisingly high number of cases you end up winning simply for showing up and continuing to show up until the very end of your case.
In this article I am going to discuss factors that could result in you winning your debt collection case that have nothing to do with the law:
The Location of the Debt Collector Lawyer’s Office
It might seem a little strange the that the location of a lawyer’s office could make a difference in the outcome of a case, but in states that are large geographically like Arizona this could end up making all the difference in your case.
Often junk debt buyers like Midland Funding and Portfolio Recovery will only use a two or three debt collection law firms to file their debt collection lawsuits. This means that these firms are typically dealing with a very large volume of cases – often being handled by surprisingly few attorneys. Further, lawsuits must be filed near the location of where the defendant lives. This means that the debt collector’s attorney may end having to file the lawsuit in a country or city that is quite far from where they run their office.
Because most debt collection lawyers are being paid on a contingency (meaning they get a portion of any money they collect) the longer they have to travel to court and the more time they have to devote to any one usually means an overall loss on that particular account. So if your court is several hours from where the debt collector’s attorney works they may decide that the case is not worth the time that would be required to prosecute it and simply dismiss it or agree to a real low-ball settlement offer.
The Location of the Court
This is similar to the prior reason, if the attorney has to drive a long ways to push the case through the court system it could very quickly become too bothersome to continue to pursue. This is particularly true on some of the smaller cases where the junk debt buyer is only suing for a couple thousand dollars.
The Busy Schedule of the Debt Collector’s Lawyer
As I mentioned above, debt collection law firms are often comprised of a handful of attorneys (or less) and several paralegals/ debt collectors. In Maricopa County where I practice law, I have seen months where a few law firms are filing more than 3,000 cases! If your trial date happens to land on a day when they won’t have an attorney to cover the hearing they may elect to dismiss or offer a very low settlement.
The Judge that is Assigned to Your Case
In Maricopa County, Arizona there are 89 superior court judges and 26 justices of the peace. While each judge does their best to apply the law there is no doubt that in Maricopa County you are dealing with 115 unique individuals who all bring their own experiences, ideas, biases, and notions of what is fair to their court.
Sometimes you get different results from the same judge. I remember one time when I had two trials on the same day, both of them against Midland Funding, the debt collector’s attorney was the same person, the witness was the same in both cases, and both cases were heard by the same judge.
I won one and lost the other!
To me, the facts were almost identical, but the judge saw something different in one case that pushed it over the top and resulted in a win for my client.
I often tell clients that the “X-Factor” in their case will be the judge that ends of being assigned.
The Experience Level of the Debt Collector’s Lawyer
In Arizona there are some debt collection attorneys who are real pros at what they do and really represent their clients well. However many times debt collection firms will hire attorneys who just recently graduated from law school. And while these newer attorneys are very capable it goes without saying that the longer you are in any job the better you get at it.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that if you have an old veteran debt collection lawyer on the other side that you won’t end up with a positive result. Many times it is the more experienced debt collection attorneys that can spot a loser or problem case and agree to dismiss or will come in with a reasonable offer.
Holiday / Vacation Schedules
I have noticed that trials that are set by the court around any major holiday often end in a dismissal or settlement. Lawyers are people too (even debt collection lawyers are people :)… and they want to get out of town with their families and take a little time off. If a trial is getting in the way of a well deserved vacation or trip back home to take the grandkids to see grandma your case may end up with a great result.
Schedule Conflicts with the Debt Collector’ Witness
When debt collection cases go to trial it is necessary for the debt collector to bring in a witness to testify as to the underlying transactions and to authenticate the documents that the debt collector is going to use at trial. As with the attorney’s office sometimes schedules don’t line up and the debt collector’s witness won’t be able to make it to the trial or I have had situations where they simply forget.
If they can’t testify the case is over – the debt collector won’t be able to prove its case.
The point of this article is that sometimes, even when your case is not that great, there may still be reason to be hopeful that you can resolve your debt collection case in a way that you can live with. It is important to note that the scenarios above should not be your main strategy or hope of winning your case, but I have won more cases than I care to admit due to one of the above situations happening.
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John Skiba, Esq.
We offer a free consultation to discuss your debt problem and help you put together a game plan to eliminate your debt once and for all. Give us a call at (480) 420-4028