Typical Alabama FDCPA Lawsuit That Does Not Settle Quickly
Typical Alabama FDCPA Lawsuit That Does Not Settle Quickly
We have spoken about the kinds of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) cases that settle quickly.
Now we want to look at the other side and talk about the FDCPA cases that typically do NOT settle quickly.
Here is a list of factors:
- Big Damages
- Arrogant Defendant Debt Collector
- Inexperienced or Arrogant Defense Lawyer
- Liability is Disputed
- Inappropriate Demand
Let’s look at these one at a time.
Each case has its own value.
Sometimes this is small and sometimes it is big.
As a general rule, it is easier to settle a FDCPA case for $10,000 than for $150,000.
(See below for when the demand is inappropriately high).
For the bigger cases, it is harder to settle for several reasons.
- It is simply harder to pay more money than less money
- There is more incentive to “test” the theory and credibility of the consumer when a debt collector is going to pay six figures than when the collector is paying $5,000 or even $25,000
- The defense lawyer has more justification to “work” the file and make lots of billable hour money when the lawyer can say “See, this is a very serious case so it is worth it for you to pay me a lot of money before you stroke a big check.”
These reasons are what they are — they are not good or bad.
If you have a very serious case, with big damages, then you should not expect that the case will settle.
Instead you should expect that the case will go to trial — and if it settles before trial, for the right amount of money, then this is a nice bonus.
Arrogant Defendant Debt Collector
This is the most common reason FDCPA cases do not settle or do not settle quickly.
An arrogant defendant.
A debt collector that is so used to running over consumers that when one stands up — and when a lawyer stands up — the debt collector can’t see straight.
I’ve had lawyers tell me their clients are so angry at being sued that they want to seek sanctions against me.
When I ask why they say “Do you realize how big of a company we are — you can’t say negative things about us!”
Apparently the truth has nothing to do with it….
These companies are also used to dealing with consumer lawyers who are not litigators — perhaps they have a bankrutpcy background and are not comfortable arguing cases in federal court and in front of juries.
So most consumers fold when confronted with the anger and arrogance of certain collection agencies.
So if you don’t, and your lawyer doesn’t, then the agency is perplexed but figures it must just need to push harder.
While we like to settle cases early, we really don’t care if a collector wants to take a case to trial.
We are comfortable trying cases in federal court and our clients are prepared to go to trial so other than a slight delay, there is very little downside for us to go to trial.
Combined with the fact that arrogant companies cannot hide their arrogance (for long that is), then the jury will see what kind of company this is and will likely have a negative view of a company that comes in and lies and acts self righteous.
Inexperienced or Arrogant Defense Lawyer
Almost as bad — and sometimes worse — than an arrogant debt collection company is when the defense lawyer is arrogant. Or inexperienced.
When the defense lawyer is knowledgeable and experienced and not caught up in his or her own “glory” then this allows the debt collector to have a reasonable and fair evaluation of the case.
If the consumer lawyer is the same, and gives a reasonable evaluation of the case as well, normally the case will settle.
Both sides can see how the case will likely go without having to go through countless depositions.
Both sides should be able to see down the stream of time and know with a fairly good certainty what will happen.
The case may not get settled, but it likely will.
But when the defense lawyer (or consumer lawyer) doesn’t know the law, isn’t an experienced and skillful trial lawyer, or is operating out of arrogance, the case will likely not settle.
Liability is Hotly Disputed
Sometimes everyone is reasonable but there is a fundamental disagreement over what happened in the case.
In the automobile accident arena we refer to this as a “green light case” — who had the green light? Both parties say they did — a jury has to decide.
Similarly, the collector and consumer may see things completely differently and the gap is simply too big to close.
That’s fine — as Judge Hanes told me when I was a young lawyer who did not get a case settled, “Mr. Watts, that’s why they build these big courthouses and give black robes to judges.”
I’ve always remembered that — sometimes the case cannot be settled despite good lawyers on both sides and there is nothing wrong with trying that type of case and seeing “who had the green light.”
Consumer Has Made an Inappropriate Demand
Just like the debt collector, or defense lawyer, can destroy an opportunity to settle a case, so can an unreasonable consumer or consumer lawyer.
If your case is worth $10,000 and you demand $250,000, that might just shut down negotiations….
If your case is worth $250,000, then by all means demand $500,000 or more but make sure that it is a reasonable amount.
Don’t give the collection agency an excuse to not negotiate.
There are not guarantees about when a case will settle or even if a case will settle.
But the ones that don’t settle at all, or settle very late in the process, normally have one or more of the items discussed in this article.
Some can be helped but some are outside the control of the consumer.
Since this is the case, do what you can.
Also, always remember that every case should be prepared to go to trial and settlement should be a nice bonus.
Not the expected outcome.
If you have any questions, give us a call at 205-879-2447.
Or let us know by filling out our contact form.
We represent clients all over the state of Alabama.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!