Yesterday, I had the misfortune to see a Defendant lose her collections lawsuit to a debt buyer. It was sad because the Defendant could have easily won her case if she was represented by a competent consumer lawyer.
As I walked in county court for a routine pretrial matter, I noticed a summary judgment motion hearing was about to start on a debt collection case. The Plaintiff Midland LLC was suing a Defendant who was going to represent herself. I found her in the courtroom anticipating her hearing. I approached her and bluntly informed her she should not be representing herself because she was going to lose her case. I told her she could ask the judge for more time to hire a lawyer, She told me to leave her alone because she read everything about collections defense on the internet and knew all the objections she needed to make to win her case. Okie dokie! It’s your case lady.
I just stayed to watch the show (knowing it’s sad ending). The newby appearance attorney for Midland nervously admitted garbage evidence without invoking Rule 902 of Texas Rules of Evidence. The judge himself commented, “isn’t this hearsay?” The stumbling appearance attorney just said, “umm…umm..it is but it’s a business record, so it’s pretty reliable.” Then the judge asked Defendant what she thought about his explanation, to which she responded, “it’s not my debt. so why should it be considered?”
Judge reluctantly admitted Midland’s evidence riddled with hearsay all over it. It was the right ruling, but it was obvious the Judge didn’t like it at all and would have denied the evidence with the proper objection from a consumer lawyer. Not surprisingly during the entire 8 minute hearing, the Defendant was confused about when to speak, when to make objections, and what to say. She was totally disoriented and out of her element.
So she lost, and the court granted summary judgment for Midland. Afterwards, the Defendant asked me what she could do next about her debt collection case against Midland. I looked at her file quickly, and it was just as I expected: another classic garbage debt-buyer case. It was 100% winnable and she probably had affirmative defenses allowing attorney fees. Instead, she was slapped with a $6000 judgment because she decided to cheap-out and represent herself. I advised her to hire a lawyer who will file a motion for new trial. But I don’t think she will listen. Some people just never learn.