Did you know that most lawsuits settle well before they ever get to trial? In Arizona, the percentage of civil cases that actually go to trial is in the single digits. In fact, for attorneys that work as civil litigators it is becoming more and more difficult to get trial experience. A big reason these cases settle prior to trial is cost. Lawsuits are expensive for all involved. Another reason people settle rather than having their day in court is what I call the “X” Factor when it comes to civil justice.
After all of the preparations, meetings, depositions, discovery, and everything else that goes into a civil lawsuit, at the end of it all you give up all control and hand it over to a judge (or jury) and let them decide. It is the football equivalent of 22 players knocking each other senseless for 59 minutes and then bringing in the kicker at the last minute to decide the contest with a field goal. As Gene Hackman’s character in Runaway Jury said, “Gentlemen, trials are too important to be left to juries.”
Many feel that way. They don’t want to give up control of the case and would rather settle for less than the full amount that risk giving up all control to a third party.
When it comes to Midland Funding lawsuits the X Factor is the definitely the judge. Because most of these cases are for relatively small amounts ($5,000 or less), they are often heard by the local Justice of the Peace. Often the justices are elected and many times non-lawyers. Why does this matter? When it comes to defending a debt collection lawsuit by Midland Funding, or any of the other junk debt buyers, the arguments you need to make are purely legal. Sometimes in lawsuits the facts are in dispute. In Midland Funding cases often the facts are not in dispute but the court simply needs to apply the law to determine who wins.
Typically, on its face, Midland Funding lawsuits do not have sufficient evidence to support a court granting them a judgment. They just don’t. Despite all the creative (and not so creative) ways their attorneys try and and get court’s to accept what they allege is proof of their ownership of the debt, it simply isn’t there. And if Midland Funding were fighting their battles in higher courts its success rate would be much lower. In essence, Midland Funding and other debt buyers have a business model that relies on untrained judges or courts with a bias towards creditors and “making people pay.” It sounds harsh, but I have witnessed it time and again.
So what can be done? If you are facing a Midland Funding debt collection lawsuit seek out an attorney who has dealt with debt buyer collection lawsuits before. It is vital that the presentation of your case at trial is done by someone who has a firm understanding of the Rules of Evidence and the defenses involved in debt buyer collection lawsuits and by someone who can present the legal objections clearly to the court. Even though legally consumers should prevail in nearly all debt buyer lawsuits due to the glaring deficiencies in Midland’s evidence, due to the X Factor you may not win your case and will need to appeal. In Arizona appealing a justice court matter puts the case before a Superior Court judge who has more experience with evidentiary issues and you will likely obtain a much more favorable result.
An appeal adds time and cost to the defense of these lawsuits, but in the end it gets you were you need to be. Also, in Arizona, if you win in a civil trial the court can make Midland Funding pay your attorney’s fees and costs (and I have the checks from Midland Funding to prove it!).