We have discussed many times the problem with the explosion of debt buyer lawsuits against Alabama consumers, particularly when the debt buyers will not or are not able to present any proof or any evidence to the court that the hundreds and hundreds of Alabama consumers that they sue each month actually owe one penny to the debt buyer. We thought it might be helpful to give you a quick story about a recent case in Birmingham (Jefferson County) that we had the opportunity to actually try. Normally the debt buyers concede at the courthouse that they have no proof and ask the court to enter judgment against them in favor of the consumer defendant or they ask for a dismissal with prejudice.
In this particular case, however, the debt buyer sought to win its case by putting our client on the stand and questioning him under oath. We explained that this would do no good as Alabama consumers cannot testify as to whether or not the debt buyer actually owns the debt. The only party that can testify to that is the debt buyer and then the company that the debt buyer allegedly bought the debt from which often is not the original creditor but is, yet another, debt buyer.
Nevertheless, this debt buyer wanted to proceed with trial. It brought no witness. It brought no documents which could be admitted into evidence. Instead, our client was sworn in and was questioned by the attorney for the debt buyer along these lines:
Did you have a credit card account with bracket [original creditor]?
Did you receive bills from the [original creditor]?
Did you owe any money to the [original creditor]?
Finally, the questions turned to the debt buyer which is the only relevant matter as the original creditor had not sued our client. The questions went something like this:
Did you receive letters from the debt buyer?
Don’t you admit that you owe the debt buyer money?
We were then allowed to cross-examine our client and we did so in the following way:
Did you ever do business with the debt buyer?
Did you ever borrow any money from the debt buyer?
Did you ever buy any goods or services from the debt buyer?
Had you ever heard of this debt buyer before this debt buyer sued without offering any proof that it owned the debt?
Do you owe this debt buyer any money?
At the end of this questioning of our client, the Jefferson County District Court Judge asked if the debt buyer had any further proof to offer. Not surprisingly, the answer was “No”. The trial court then asked if we had any additional evidence which we did not because we have no burden of proving anything at trial. The debt buyer sued our client and therefore the debt buyer bears the burden of proof that it is entitled to money damages against our client. While every plaintiff in every civil litigation bears this burden, it is extraordinarily hard to meet this burden when you do not bring a witness and do not bring a single shred of evidence.
The trial court took about 30 seconds to rule in favor of our client, the Alabama consumer.
Not all cases that are tried between debt buyers and Alabama consumers will play out this way as a debt buyer certainly can bring witnesses and evidence. But we wanted to share this one example out of the dozens and dozens of cases that we have handled successfully for Alabama consumers to give you a feel for what trial can be like in cases where debt buyers have sued Alabama consumers.
We hope that this post has been helpful to you and if you have any questions please feel free to contact us through our website.
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