The story of Alice
How I found out debt-buyers are just bullies
A few days ago, I shared a story with a colleague about why I began representing people who were getting sued in collections cases. It all started with Alice (not her real name).
I also practice commercial litigation. Alice was the office manager for one of my construction-industry clients, and I had known her fairly well for several years. One day she called my office, and she was very upset. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that her husband Anthony (not his real name either) was being sued for $9,000. Anthony was a small masonry subcontractor who put $9,000 worth of project materials on his Home Depot credit card. But when the homeowner paid the general contractor, the general contractor skipped on the job without paying Anthony.
I took a look at the case. Anthony was getting sued by Equable Ascent, a debt-buyer. But when I looked at the documentation attached to the complaint, everything seemed really sketchy. As a litigator, I immediately saw that this Equable Ascent company (long gone out of business as far as I can tell) just slapped some paperwork together and stapled it to the complaint against Anthony.
I first looked at the case as would the typical lawyer. I didn’t see a practical way to help Anthony and Alice. Not knowing how debt-buyers operated in court, I presumed that equable Ascent would be able to eventually prove its case if it ever went to trial. In the meantime, I would have to be charging Anthony and Alice my hourly rate to fight this case. By the time the dust settled, Anthony would probably have to pay the $9,000 owed plus he would be in the hole for my attorney’s fees.
Still, something bothered me about this approach.