Category: Collections Law at Allexperts.com question and answer forum
Question: How does a judgment work? I have a hospital bill that is going to court for a judgement. I do not fully understand what a judgement is.
Creditwrench CEO Bill Bauer answered
Simply put, a judgment is a court order saying that you owe money to someone. It is not an order of the court stating that you have to pay. Garnishment is the order of the court that says you have to pay. Many folks do not know this and so pay up as soon as the judgment is entered against them..
When you are served with a summons you have a certain number of days within which you must respond to the court not counting the day upon which you were served. Most people think that the summons says they have to answer the summons meaning they have to explain to the court why they didn't pay. Creditwrench teaches that this is totally incorrect and untrue. We teach that you have to respond and that the best way to respond is by filing a motion with the court demanding more definitive statements from the plaintiff. Make him explain each and every little detail in his complaint.
Motion for more definitive statements is also known as a Bill of Particulars. Either way it is a part of the 5 discovery tools that each party has at his disposal. Your response must be in writing and properly prepared. Creditwrench teaches that you don't need an attorney to do all of this. You can do it all by yourself and Creditwrench teaches you exactly how to do all of it without paying huge fees to attorneys who usually will not do an effective job of defending you.
If the court grants your motion for more definitive statements the Plaintiff is now on the defensive and must explain all that you demanded he explain. If he fails to do so you can then demand another set of more definitive statements if the court will allow it. If not your next move might be to see if you can use the answers you received to file motions to dismiss the plaintiff's case for any number of reasons. If those motions are denied you would then have to actually answer the plaintiff's complaints with a detailed statement about each of his complaints coupled with any affirmative defenses you might have. An affirmative defense is a category of defense used in litigation between private parties in common law jurisdictions by the defendant. Affirmative defenses operate to limit or excuse or avoid a defendant's criminal culpability or civil liability, even if the factual allegations of plaintiff's claim are admitted or proven.
An affirmative defense must be timely pleaded by the defendant in order for the court to consider it, or else it is considered waived by the defendant's failure to assert it.
Because an affirmative defense requires an assertion of facts beyond those claimed by the plaintiff, generally the party making an affirmative defense bears the burden of proof. The burden of proof is typically lower than beyond a reasonable doubt. It can either be proof by clear and convincing evidence or a preponderance of the evidence.
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the assertion of affirmative defenses in civil cases filed in the United States district courts. Rule 8(c) specifically enumerates the following defenses: "accord and satisfaction, arbitration and award, assumption of risk, contributory negligence, discharge in bankruptcy, duress, estoppel, failure of consideration, fraud, illegality, injury by fellow servant, laches, license, payment, release, res judicata, statute of frauds, statute of limitations, waiver, and any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense."
Another of the 5 available discovery tools is known as interrogatories which are additional questions you can ask the plaintiff. What you can ask are strictly governed by the court's rules of civil procedure. You can find those on the Internet quite easily and must be studied diligently. Your 3rd set of discovery tools are demand for admissions. Demand that the Plaintiff admit certain things that if admitted will be very detrimental to his case. Then your 4th discovery tool is demand for production of documents. Make his produce all of the documents upon which he relies as well as a true and correct accounting for the amounts of money he demands including attorney fees. The 5th discovery tool is inpersonam discovery where the parties meet and attempt to get the other party to admit that he has no case or that the defendant has no defense. Creditwrench also teaches that it is far better to be a plaintiff in federal court than it is to be a defendant in any court. Therefore we also teach how to find good and valid reasons to sue the plaintiff and his attorney in federal court for violations of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Truth in Lending, RESPA and other federal laws. If you are successful in federal court that usually puts a stop to all their demands you pay them anything at the time the Rule 26(F) meeting is held.
Plaintiffs who have violated federal law will usually want to reach a settlement agreement rather than face a jury of 12 people, most if not all of whom have credit reports and credit ratings and little or no love for collection agencies and their attorneys. Local court judges are usually very rude and uncaring about the rights of defendants and see their maneuvers as nothing more than dodges to escape paying what is owed to the poor creditor but its not that way in federal court. If you are right and the defendant has abused your rights or broken the law he will be severely punished by the court.
Creditwrench students learn all of this and how to fight effectively. We teach our students by phone, fax, and the Internet and can get them up to speed very quickly, often within 24 hours or less if necessary. I do hope that this has taught you at least a little bit about what a judgment is and how it operates.
You can learn much more by visiting our web site at http://www.creditwrench.com and our message board at http://consumers.creditwrench.com and by joining in our Friday night conference calls which take place at 7:00 P.M. Central time every Friday evening. The call in number is Dial-in Number: (605) 772-3001 and the Access code is: 508548#. Our conference calls are open to the public at no cost or obligation. Please announce yourself when you join the call.
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