Recently I had a trial where a debt buyer had sued one of my clients. When debt buyers like Midland Funding, Portfolio Recovery, and CACH, LLC file lawsuits they often struggle to prove their case due to their lack of evidence. Likewise it is extremely rare that the debt buyer has a witness from the original creditor show up to testify as to the original debt and the transfer to the debt buying company.
This most recent trial I had was an exception to that general rule. The debt buyer had a witness from the original creditor, a witness from the debt buying company, and sufficient documents – a recipe for disaster.
But we won the case.
Not only did we win the case, but the debt buyer is required to pay my client’s attorney’s fees and court costs. Even with the odds stacked against us, we won. Here are two things you can learn from my latest trial as you fight your own battle.
#1 – Showing Up is Half the Battle
Sometimes showing up is the entire battle. We have all seen the trials on TV, the news articles, and shocking stories on Facebook about trials that seem to result in an unfair or unexpected result. Often the reason a case is won or lost is found in the details of courtroom procedure and the rules of evidence.
While these things are not interesting to the typical person, the details and procedure of a lawsuit have a huge impact on the final outcome. I bring this up because many times the facts may look stacked against you but then the case will turn on a procedural misstep by one of the parties that results in an outcome that was not expected by either party.
In my most recent case the debt buyer had all their documents and witnesses ready to go. However once we got into trial the debt buyer’s attorney made a tactical error and failed to introduce any evidence that the original creditor had sold the debt to the debt buying company. This was a problem because the debt buying company was the Plaintiff in the case – not the original creditor.
At the end of the case the judge outlined his decision – stating that while he believes the debt buyer proved that there was a debt owed to the original creditor they had failed to prove that the debt was then transferred to the debt buying company. This was a big problem for the debt buying company because in their lawsuit they claimed that the money was now owed to them, not the original creditor.
By failing to show that my client now owed them money they failed to prove a critical element of their case. And in the end, it cost them their entire case.
The take-away from this is even when your case doesn’t appear to be that great there is always a chance that the decision may turn your way based upon complexities of the legal system. Show up. Don’t let decisions and court rulings happen without you being there.
#2 – It Cuts Both Ways
The second take-away is that scenarios like I just described above can cut both ways. Just as this debt buyer lost the entire case on a misstep – so can you! The legal process is full of landmines. In Arizona the judge is required to assume that you have the same amount of knowledge when it comes to the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure and the Arizona Rules of Evidence as the lawyer for the debt buyer does.
And while I realize Google is a wonderful thing and full of all kinds of information – you don’t have the same level of understanding of these procedural rules as the debt buyer’s lawyer does. They are repeat players in this game. You aren’t. This is where having an attorney is going to be of the greatest benefit.
Having someone to assist you through the court process and make sure that you don’t make a misstep that ends up costing you your entire case.