Some of our clients come to us after they have first tried fighting against a debt collection lawsuit on their own. Someone representing themselves is known as “pro se” or “in propria persona” from older Latin phrases. Sometimes they knew the credit card debt or other debt was not theirs, and felt they could convince the debt collector to dismiss their lawsuit. Unfortunately, this rarely works, because many debt collection lawyers simply assume you are not telling the truth and are trying to avoid a judgment.
Sometimes our clients read something on the internet to educate themselves on how to defend a credit card lawsuit. This, too, almost never works. Much of the information on the internet does not address Florida laws on debt collection lawsuits. Other times, the defenses listed on such websites are simply not valid legal defenses. In those instances where the information is correct, the defenses must be asserted at the right time and in the right form, or they are invalid. There is nothing worse than knowing you are “right” and still losing the lawsuit.
Sometimes our clients tried to engage in “discovery” themselves to obtain enough documents to help them win their case. Unfortunately, this is more difficult than it sounds, since the debt collection law firms are very experienced and know how to stall or thwart discovery altogether. They will cite statutes, court rules and various Florida legal cases in objecting to your requests and generally obstructing discovery. Then, if you want to enforce your rights, you have to file the appropriate motion with the Court, cite the relevant legal authorities, schedule a hearing, and attend the oral argument in Court. This can prove a daunting task for many people representing themselves.
Sometimes our clients tried defending themselves until they were faced with a Motion for Summary Judgment, a Motion for Summary Disposition, or a similar motion. These motions can have dramatic consequences, and can cause you to lose your lawsuit without a trial. Also, if you are proceeding under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, there are very detailed procedural requirements for how and when you must respond. Even if you have a complete legal defense, if you fail to assert it at the right time and in the proper form, you can still lose the entire lawsuit and have a judgment entered against you.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed due to one of these situations, please don’t hesitate to call us. We have managed to get such lawsuits back on the right track, even when we were retained very late in the litigation. In fact, we have accepted such cases right up until just before trial, and still managed to beat the debt collectors. Of course, we don’t recommend that you wait so long; the longer you wait, the more likely it is that you will have waived certain defenses and limited your strategic options. If you initially tried defending the lawsuit yourself, but now realize you need the help of an experienced and dedicated consumer protection lawyer, please call us for a free consultation. Or, if it’s easier, simply contact us through our convenient web contact form. Either way, we can still advise you of your rights and your options.