First, I'd like to thank everyone who is able to give any input or had a similar situation and has advice.
I live in Northern California.
After going back and forth with Citibank and trying to negotiate a payment arrangement within my budget and an unfortunate series of life events, I got nowhere and they decided to sic this firm, Hunt & Henriques on me. Ironically, I know someone who worked there and quit because they were so unethical.
I do acknowledge the debt is mine and legit. It is within SOL. According to the complaint filed, they are collecting on behalf of Citibank South Dakota.
My sister told me that she looked on our county's Superior Court website and sure enough, there was my name with about 50 others, all brought to the court by H&H, mostly for Citibank (at least I wasn't alone - we're all victims in this economy). There is currently no court date scheduled.
About two days before receiving the summons, I got a letter in the mail from them in the tone of "If you contact us to make payment arrangements, we won't sue you." Funny, because they had already filed and knew darn well they would sue.
I understand that I need to answer the summons, but was curious if at this point it made sense to contact them to set up payment arrangements since Citibank won't deal with me "due to my (closed) account being in litigation." Would it stop any further legal action if I talk to them or the court about filing a motion to dismiss the case? They will get a judgment over my dead body.
And yes, I am currently researching local lawyers to look over the paperwork but welcome insights from those "on the ground" who have lived to tell the tale.
Sounds like your offers were too low. Credit card companies are definitely settling on defaulted accounts, but you have to hit their bench marks. I'm sorry that you find yourself in this position.
I'm not sure I understand what you're saying about "despite what H&H says . . ." Sounds like H&H is just the law firm, and that they were hired by Citibank (the plaintiff) to litigate this debt. That's pretty standard. Are you saying that plaintiff is someone besides Citibank?
Now that you're there, the best position to be in is to be able to pay this off before the court date. You may be able to get one or more adjournments of your court date, dragging out the amount of time that you have to get the money together. But usually you only get one adjournment of the court date (once it is set) and that's usually only for 30 days.
I think it is very unlikely that you will be able to set up a payment plan to pay this off over any extended period of time while avoiding a judgment. Extended payment plans are usually done within the context of a consent judgment, where in order to get them to agree to take the payment plan, you have to agree to the judgment being in place. That obviously does not solve any of the problems you currently have, and really the only benefit for you is that you don't have to worry about being garnished as long as you are making the agreed-upon payments.
I don't think you have a basis for a motion to dismiss. The debt's yours, they're within SOL, etc.
Take a look at the state resources thread and re-read the info on Cali's service rules. You obviously were served, but make sure that they stuck to their timelines and service requirements. If they somehow screwed that up, then you may have a basis for a motion to dismiss. But since they now want to sue, that's only delaying the inevitable if you're not in a position to pay this off within the next couple of months. They'll just re-file, and do everything correctly the next time. That may buy you as long as 90 days, but that would be lucky.
About 2 years ago, I had one law firm file suit against me for two different creditors. In this case, I was able to arrange a court-stipulated payment agreement with them to keep them both out of court. Essentially, we came up with a payment plan with the stipulation that if I missed even one payment, the court would file a judgement against me. This agreement was filed in court. Once both accounts were paid in full, the suit showed up as closed on the online court access. They never got a judgement since I made every payment on time.
The difficult part was negotiating a payment plan. In my state, a judgment can result in wages being garnished for up to 20% of TAKE HOME (after tax) pay. Almost every payment I offered was met by "our client will not be willing to accept much lower monthly payments than what they would receive through wage garnishment". I eventually talked them into $400 a month ($200 to each account).
@ jesslyn: Thank you so much for your input! I met with a lawyer today. However, I may still try to contact H&H to work out a payment plan but still answer the complaint.
@ valley_man: Thank you for sharing your experience as well. I'm sorry to hear they still garnished your pay. From what I was told by the lawyers, the garnishment in CA is *25%* of take-home pay.
As a warning to those of you with cards backed by Citibank: be very, very careful. The law office I met with said they are starting to go after defaulted amounts as little as $1200. Guess they figure the head office has to repay the generous bailout $$ somehow.