If you are reading this article, chances are you are on the wrong end of a lawsuit with Midland Credit Management. This is probably an exceptionally stressful time in your life and you have a million questions. The primary being, “can you beat Midland Credit Management In Court?”. The short answer to that is simply yes. You can beat Midland Credit Management in court. Winning, however, isn’t automatic and you must know what your defenses are and raise those defenses. The court will not do this for you as it is entirely up to you to defend yourself. To understand what defenses you have, you must first understand who Midland Credit Management is and why they are the ones suing you and not the original creditor.
Midland Credit Management is a Seasoned Debt Collector & Debt Buyer
Midland Credit Management has been in operation since 1953 and brings in almost $400 Million per year in gross revenue according to Buzzfile. This San Diego, CA based company is not a pop-up creditor or a fly-by-night operation. They are established, well-funded, well-staffed and they know what they are doing. Needless to say, if you plan to represent yourself against Midland Credit Management, you should do so with great caution.
Midland Credit Management is not just a debt collector. While most assume that they are collecting on behalf of the original creditor, the opposite is typically true. Midland collects the money for themselves. Midland Credit Management claims that they own the debt and are entitled to all funds they are able to collect. They typically buy these debts in bulk and at a small fraction of what the overall debt is. The difference is pure profit potential. Although this gives rise to incredible profits for Midland, it is also where many of your defenses can be found.
Midland Credit Management Must Prove Ownership of the Debt.
Because Midland is bringing the suit in their name and claiming that they are entitled to keep all money collected, they must prove ownership of the debt. If they cannot prove they own the debt to the legal satisfaction of the court, then they fail to demonstrate that they are a harmed party giving rise to their standing to sue. Standing is a threshold issue which means nothing else matters if they cannot first prove they have standing. This is the key component of these types of cases. The next step is showing the court why Midland has not met their burden.
Getting Evidence Thrown Out
Midland Credit Management will try to prove their ownership of the underlying account through a series of documents. The primary document is typically labeled ‘Bill of Sale’. Through this document, Midland will be attempting to establish that a contract was in place between them and the original creditor assigning Midland all rights to the account. This is one of the key documents that you must raise your objections to. To get this document thrown out, you must understand the core principles of what makes up a contract, MDJ rule 321 and the precedent set forth under Commonwealth Financial Systems v Smith.
This is where it comes in handy to have an experienced legal team on your side. Arguing in court is not like what you see on TV. In the real world, you can lose your case without even knowing it if you don’t know what to look for or miss the moment to raise your objections. There are no smoking guns, no surprise witnesses and no ‘gotchas’ coming from startled witnesses on the stand. Again, this just isn’t TV. If you plan on representing yourself in court, then the court will have to assume you know the law surrounding the subject of the case.
The court will not argue your case for you. That is not the court’s role. Their role is to hear your argument or objections and make a decision based on what you raise as your defense. If you do not raise a particular defense, the court must assume it is not applicable to you and your case and you are waiving it. That means that when Midland Credit Management is submitting evidence to the court, you must know the document they are trying to submit and the objections to raise. Your window here is often just a few seconds. You must be able to identify the document, know the law of the subject and apply an objection within just a few short moments. There is no discovery process in the Magistrate so you do not get an opportunity to study these documents beforehand.
What Happens After The Hearing with Midland Credit Management?
Most Magistrates will give their ruling at the conclusion of the hearing itself, but they have up to 5 business days to do so. When you are waiting for your result, there is nothing to do but that. Just simply wait. Calling the court to follow up will have no impact and the court will not accept any argument for your case. They can’t unless the opposing party is also involved in the conversation so that they would have the opportunity to respond. This is called “Ex Parte” communication and the courts do not allow it. So if you are waiting for your judgment, just sit back and try to relax.
If you have already received your judgment, then a 30 day clock has started. If the judgment was in your favor, Midland Credit Management will have 30 days to decide if they are going to file an appeal at the Court of Common Pleas for your county. If you the judgment was against you, you will have 30 days to decide if you want to appeal. Once the 30 days is up, you cannot file an appeal unless you meet one of the grounds to do so which is rare. Filing outside of the 30 day window is called a Nunc Pro Tunc Appeal. These appeals are rarely accepted as the grounds to do so are hard to meet. You should not rely on having this as an option if you miss your window.
What Happens After The Appeal Window
The events that occur after the appeal window depend heavily on the result of the judgement. If the court ruled in your favor, then Midland Credit Management will be required to cease all debt collection activity for the account. They will also be required to remove themselves from your credit report if they have been reporting. Finally, they will not be able to transfer or sell the account to anyone else. The debt is effectively erased. Although this is what is required of Midland, it is not always what they do.
Should Midland Credit Management harass you in an attempt to force you to pay the debt despite you securing a judgment against them, you may want to sue Midland Credit Management under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act(“FDCPA”). The FDCPA was designed to prevent behavior just like this. The FDCPA allows you to recover damages whenever a 3rd party debt runs afoul of it. To determine how much is an FDCPA claim worth, give us a call.
If the judgment was against you and you have allowed the appeal window to lapse, then you may need to brace yourself of what may come next. Although Midland Credit Management cannot garnish your wages in PA, they can levy your bank account. They can also force a sheriff’s sale of personal property and apply liens to real property. Typically, the bank accounts are what they come after first. This will often occur without warning. You will more than likely wake up one day to notifications about your account having a withdraw for the amount equal to the judgment plus 6% statutory interest that begins to accrue. If your account does not have the available funds, then it will be negative. Although there are certain portions of your funds that Midland cannot take, such as social security, it is up to you to make the argument of why you should get it back. This is not automatic and it does not prevent them from trying. You will have to take the active steps necessary to prevent them from taking money they are not allowed to take under the law.
Should You Seek Counsel
We believe that, in general, your chances of being successful dramatically improve with the assistance of experienced counsel. That said, no one knows your personal situation other than you so a simple blog article cannot adequately answer this question for you. Our recommendation would be to call for a free consult and learn what options an attorney can provide you. Most attorneys give free consults, including us, so there is no real reason not to at least get a consultation before making this decision. Additionally, as with the case of FDCPA claims, you may be able to retain an attorney with no out of pocket expenses on your part.
To conclude, you can beat Midland Credit Management in court and if you are facing an active lawsuit from them, it is hardly the end of the world. You have options and opportunities to handle the situation. You must be proactive though. Nothing will be automatic. Additionally, and as previously mentioned, Midland Credit Management is an experienced debt collector with a long history behind them. They are not going to simply rollover and they have ample experience in the court room. The lawsuit they have alleged against you should not be taken lightly or brushed off as ‘easy to win’.