610-928-1233 Down Temporarily

by J. Kutkowski on July 16, 2014

The recent storms put a beating on the local phone grid.  Right now you can reach me at 484-661-2891.  I am told that number isn’t functioning perfectly either at the moment.  This should all be resolved by Monday.

My email at jim@padebt911.com is still working.

Thanks for your patience.

Get ready, a whole heaping pile of awesome is set to be delivered to this site very soon.


The Anatomy of a Debt Buyer Lawsuit: The Answer

by J. Kutkowski on August 13, 2013

In my previous post, I discussed preliminary objections, and if you haven’t read it yet you should check it out here.

Today’s post is about the answer.  When you have a complaint filed against you in Lehigh County, you at least have to answer the complaint… but if you don’t answer properly, its as bad as not answering at all.

Credit card handcuffsFortunately an answer is a fairly straight-forward document, a rarity in the practice of law, and even a non-lawyer can do it (not that I recommend it).  The answer is required to mirror the complaint.  If the complaint has ten numbered paragraphs, your answer must also have ten numbered paragraphs, but simply denying everything is not going to help you.

grandpaThe first couple of paragraphs are party identifiers.  They will list your name, address and other personal information about you.  As long as that information is correct, then you should admit it.  If not, you should deny it as follows: “Paragraph 1, the averment in this paragraph is denied, my home address is 1313 Mockingbird Lane, Allentown, PA 18103, the remainder of averments in this paragraph are admitted.”

The Plaintiff will also list their name and address.  Plaintiffs generally know where they live, so feel free to admit that averment as well.  You can answer it as follows: “The averment in paragraph 2 is admitted as stated.”

So big deal, I know my address, what else can I do with my answer?  Well if you have properly used your preliminary objections, your case is probably already done, but if you decided not to file preliminary objections, you will need to admit, deny, or claim ignorance on the remaining paragraphs.

This is the sneaky part.

Plaintiff’s attorneys expect (correctly) that their Defendant will either not answer, or if they do answer, they will answer improperly.

OCTOPODIDAESuppose paragraph 3 reads: “Defendant Kerrigan is a known Octopus who happens to reside in the city of Allentown.”  Stupid I know, but if you just issue a blanket denial, our courts will deem the blanket denial as an admission.  In essence by improperly answering a paragraph, you have admitted that you are an octopus!  Once again I know this is ridiculous, but to make my point, the answer should be written as: “Defendant denies that he is an octopus, however the remainder of the averment in paragraph 3 is admitted.”  Of course if you don’t live in Allentown, then feel free to deny that too while denying that you are a mollusc.

chickenSuppose paragraph 4 reads: “Plaintiff Hancock is a chicken who also inhales oxygen.”  Again I realize these are ridiculous, but I write this to make a point.  If you don’t know if Hancock is a cross-dresser, you can say “Defendant is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as the truth of the averment in paragraph 4, therefore it is denied.”  The problem is that is also a blanket denial, and in Pennsylvania a blanket denial is treated as an admission.  In essence by issuing a blanket denial to a paragraph, you have admitted that your opponent is a chickenIt is more properly written as such: “Defendant is without knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth of Plaintiff Hancock being a cross-dresser, therefore it is denied.  The remainder of the averments in paragraph 4 are admitted.” 

This is where the real practice of law comes into play, and this is where you need an attorney.  If you file an incorrectly worded answer, you may inadvertently admit to owing the debt and then you are sunk.

Cowboys racing across ridge in silhouetteIn most debt-buyer cases, a well written answer cannot help you, but a poorly written answer can hurt you.  Most debt buyer cases are under $50,000, which means they will be heard by an arbitrator.  In general, the arbitrators do not read the preliminary objections or answers unless the party fails to appear at arbitration (which is real dumb), so while an answer can’t help you, a poorly written answer can result in a motion for summary judgment and if that is granted, the case is over.

If you have already filed your answer, you have 20 days in Pennsylvania to file an amended answer for any reason, so if you’ve fallen into this trap, don’t delay in calling 610-928-1233 or emailing me at jim@padebt911.com to set up an appointment.


The Anatomy of a Debt Buyer Lawsuit: Preliminary Objections

July 30, 2013

So you have just gotten your complaint in the mail and have read it.  What do you do now? Well if you are in Lehigh County, the smartest move is to call 610-928-1233 or email jim@padebt911.com and schedule an appointment, after all, why go to the courthouse in Allentown unprepared, but what if you decide [...]

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The Anatomy of a Debt Buyer Lawsuit: The Complaint

July 24, 2013

Filing a lawsuit in Allentown Pennsylvania requires a specific document and procedure to be followed.  You cannot just pull a Michael Scott (protagonist in ‘The Office’) and walk out of your office and “Declare Lawsuit”. Every debt-buyer lawsuit in Lehigh County Pennsylvania starts with a written document called “The Complaint”. So what is the complaint?  [...]

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Can an FDCPA Complaint Be Generated By An Improper Proof of Claim?

June 13, 2013

As I have discussed many times, a proof of claim in Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed by a creditor seeking to be paid for their debt.   When a proof of claim is invalid, I will object to that proof of claim, and often times I save my clients thousands of dollars when the claim is [...]

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Advice on Raising Daughters, Because No One Is An Expert, We Are All Just Learning

June 12, 2013

This post isn’t going to be about Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  It isn’t going to be me spiking the football about another flawless victory in court.  I’m not going to have any insight on personal finance (well maybe a tiny bit) and this is unlikely to make any law journal, magazine, or even [...]

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Awesome New Tactics In Objecting To Proofs Of Claim in Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Cases

June 4, 2013

One of the most important aspects of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is the proof of claim. As I explained in a previous post, a proof of claim is what a creditor files to get paid in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. One of the things I do better than any attorney in this district is object [...]

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But If I File Bankruptcy They Will Take All My Stuff…

June 3, 2013

That would be right unless your replaced all of with NONE OF. That’s right, in most Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy cases, the trustee (the man or woman appointed to supervise your case) cannot take anything from you. The reason they can’t is something in Bankruptcy law called exemptions. An exemption is something you [...]

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Driving an Old Car Into Bankruptcy, Why That Old Car May Actually Help You Qualify

May 30, 2013

I’m not having a great day with cars.  My 2002 Chevy just popped up a warning lamp, and anyone who has experience with the Chevy Venture knows that it is very much a money-pit. I have written previously about not driving a new car into bankruptcy and I’m definitely not against people driving nice cars [...]

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Foreclosure Lawsuit: Anything That Could Have Been Done Wrong Was

May 21, 2013

Pennsylvania is a judicial foreclosure state.  What that means is for a lender to foreclose on your home, they must get approval from a judge to foreclose. The first step to foreclosing in Lehigh County is to file an Act 91 notice.  An Act 91 notice is a notification from your lender that you have [...]

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