How do I know If I am being sued in the wrong Court?

When a consumer collections lawsuit is filed by a junk debt buyer, there are two proper courts where the lawsuit can be filed – either 1) a court where the consumer signed the original note which the lawsuit was based upon, or 2) a court where the consumer resides at the time lawsuit was filed. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ( or “FDCPA” for short) gives consumers powerful rights if the collections lawsuit is filed in some other court, including the right to recover up to $1,000 in statutory damages.

Midland Funding LLC recently did this to one of my clients in the Cleveland Municipal Court.

CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL COURT AND THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE

Cleveland Municipal Court has jurisdiction over actions which take place in the city limits of Cleveland and Bratenahl, a tiny but very wealthy village on the eastern edge of Cleveland. However, when the Post Office sends out mail, it frequently normalizes the names of many suburban cities to “Cleveland” although the addresses are really in Brooklyn, Parma, Parma Heights, etc. Collection attorneys who sue in the Cleveland Municipal Court are too busy to look up the actual address, they are filing 25 or 50 of these cases every day – just in the Cleveland Municipal Court! They just robo-sign the complaints without bothering to figure out if the lawsuit should have been in the Garfield Heights Municipal Court (or some other court) instead. (The FDCPA refers to “judicial districts.”)

WHEN YOU ARE SUED BY A JUNK BUYER, IT PAYS TO HAVE A CONSUMER ATTORNEY REVIEW THE COMPLAINT

Getting sued by a junk debt buyer is a serious matter. Although consumers may be tempted to bury their heads in the sand, doing this can result in a judgment by default being issued against them. The plaintiff wins regardless of the merits of the case or any defenses the consumer could have brought. An experienced consumer attorney can evaluate whether you have good defenses to the lawsuit or whether other options, such as a fresh start in bankruptcy, may be available.

In my client’s situation, it was obvious that Cleveland Municipal Court was the wrong court. He literally had never lived in the city of Cleveland, either at the time the lawsuit was filed or at the time he entered into a consumer debt with the original creditor. We prepared an answer to the complaint and also a counter-claim, suing the junk debt buyer for violating the FDCPA.

THE RESULT – CASE DISMISSED AND SETTLEMENT

The amount of the settlement was confidential. However, the client had all attorneys’ fees paid and also received compensation under the FDCPA. So not only did the lawsuit get dismissed, he paid nothing for his legal fees and got damages in addition.
If you are sued by a junk debt buyer in Northeast Ohio, contact us at 216-642-8234 for a consultation. I practice in many northeast Ohio courts, Cleveland Municipal and all of Cuyahoga County, Lake, Lorain, Summit and surrounding counties. It may be very worth your while to learn what your rights are.

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