If you have been sued by CACH, LLC, or one of the other debt buyers, you have probably felt a lot of different emotions – with fear of the unknown likely rising to the top! However, understanding the process you are going through can bring you a lot of peace. Simply knowing what to expect from CACH, LLC and the Justice Court system here in Arizona will take much of the concern and fear out of your situation.
If you have been sued by CACH, LLC – or frankly any of the debt buyers like Midland Funding or Portfolio Recovery – and you are being sued in the Arizona Justice Court system, here are a few pointers on what you can expect during your court case:
Complaint & Summons
The complaint is the document filed by CACH, LLC that states the allegations they have against you. The summons is the order from the justice court that tells you that you need to file a written Answer to the complaint or you risk having a default judgment entered against you.
Here in Arizona you have twenty (20) days to file a written Answer to the complaint. These are calendar days and include weekends. If you have been served with a debt collection lawsuit the first thing you need to do is take out your calendar and count out twenty (20) days and circle that date. It is an important one.
The Answer is your written response to the Complaint. The way to think about the complaint is it is really nothing more than a bunch of allegations. In the Answer your job is to either admit or deny the allegations in the complaint. If you don’t know the information needed to respond to the complaint it is also okay to say you don’t know.
The main thing I try to convey to clients is that the Answer is not your time to tell your side of the case. I have seen many people who have prepared and filed their own Answer mess up their case because of the information they wrote in their Answer. Your day in court will come – and when it does that will be the time for us to tell your story. The Answer is not the time.
It is also important to note that you will be required to pay a filing fee to the clerk of the court. In the Arizona justice courts you will be required to pay $65.00.
In Arizona there are mandatory disclosures that must be made by both parties within forty (40) days after you file your Answer with the court. The Disclosure Statement is essentially where both sides have to show their cards. You have to disclose your version of the facts, your legal theories, the names of any witnesses you intend to call at trial, and provide any documentation you have in connection with your case to the attorneys for CACH, LLC (or whoever you are litigating against).
In Arizona this document is not filed with the court but simply exchanged between the parties via mail.
Some of the justice courts here in Arizona will require that the parties attend mediation. Mediation is not trial. Mediation is the process of seeing if some middle ground can be reached between you and CACH, LLC. The judge is not involved in this process. Usually there is a mediator that will get the parties together and see if some sort of agreement can be reached. If not – no big deal – the case is then sent back to the judge for a trial date.
If mediation is not successful then the court will set a Pre Trial Conference. This, again, is not your day in court – even though it will be held in the court. The Pre Trial Conference is typically really short – usually about 5-10 minutes. The justice of the peace will talk to the parties to see if there is any thing else the parties need to do prior to trial and then will either set the case for trial or tell you that the court will send you a trial date shortly. If they don’t give you a trial date there in court, you will receive a date in the mail in the next week or so.
Trials in justice court are measured in hours, not days. The are no juries. The typical debt buyer trial will take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The typical time from the when the complaint is filed until your trial is held will be 4 to 8 months (sometimes longer).
If you don’t like the outcome of your trial you can always appeal it. In Arizona you have 14 days from the day the court rules against you to file your appeal.
The above steps are generally what you can expect in a debt buyer case in an Arizona justice court. There can be other steps, such as a motion for summary judgment, but in general this is what you can expect.
This information alone will not make you win your case. But it can relieve some of the stress associated with getting sued.