For all of my legal experiences over the past 10 years or so--most of them unpleasant--today will mark a first.
I, the Legal Schnauzer, will raise my right paw, swear to tell the truth, and give a deposition.
It's part of a lawsuit Mrs. Schnauzer and I have brought against NCO Financial Services, a large debt-collection outfit based in Horsham, Pennsylvania, and Ingram & Associates, a Birmingham-based debt-collection law firm.
The lawsuit alleges multiple violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) regarding a debt that allegedly was owed to American Express. Also involved are several state-law torts--fraud, invasion of privacy, defamation, and reckless and wanton training and supervision.
This is part of the fallout from our encounter with corrupt state judges in Alabama. Before our troublesome neighbor, Mike McGarity, filed a bogus lawsuit against me--and Shelby County circuit judges J. Michael Joiner and G. Dan Reeves made numerous unlawful rulings that caused it to drag on for years--we were fortunate to enjoy excellent credit. In fact, I don't recall ever being late on paying a bill.
But when you are forced to shell out probably $30,000 to $40,000 in unexpected legal expenses--and when your wife loses out mysteriously on numerous jobs over a three-year period while the litigation is going on--it can cause your finances to go south in a hurry. Did these judges, unhappy that I had portrayed them in court documents as the criminals that they are, cause someone to track our phone communications and cost my wife numerous jobs? Corrupt judges have the means to easily pull such sleazy tricks, and that's exactly what we think happened--and it's a key reason we wound up receiving calls from debt collectors.
Here's the lesson I want to impart for Legal Schnauzer readers: If you use a credit card, there is a chance that you someday might be hearing from a debt collector, a third-party debt buyer, or a debt-collection law firm--no matter how good your credit might be today. And it's important to understand how the debt-collection game is played.
There's nothing wrong with debt collectors trying to collect money that is owed, but they have to operate within FDCPA guidelines. And they are notoriously bad about ignoring the FDCPA, and its weak sanctions, altogether.
In our case, the violations are clear cut. I tape recorded several conversations with representatives from Ingram & Associates, and the violations are right there for anyone who cares to listen. This isn't a he said-she said case. We have hard, cold evidence.
So what do attorneys for the defendants expect to accomplish by deposing me today? I suspect this is an exercise in damage control and intimidation. Perhaps they hope to trip me up or get me ticked off. As for intimidation, that probably explains why the deposition will be videotaped, which I'm told is usually done only where the deponent is not expected to be available for trial.
There seems to be no legitimate reason for videotaping the deposition, other than trying to make me uncomfortable.
Actually, the other side's only strategy, so far, seems to involve trying to intimidate us. For example, they filed a motion seeking pretty much full access to our medical records. I'm guessing they thought we would be horrified by that notion, but we didn't really care--there's nothing embarrassing or particularly interesting about our medical records.
Our lawyers pointed out that they were entitled to see only certain portions of our records under the law, but once it became clear that this request didn't shake us up, the other side seemed to lose interest in our medical records. I, at least, haven't heard anything new on that front.
On the subject of intimidation, someone took a really low-ball act against Mrs. Schnauzer and me about a month ago. I haven't written about it yet, but I will be providing details in the days ahead. Suffice to say, it was a despicable act--and quite a bit of evidence points to it being related to this lawsuit against debt collectors.
It will be interesting to see if that subject comes up today.
Here is a thought that I hope might help any readers who are feeling sluggish and out of sorts at the beginning of a new week. No matter how bad your Monday is going, consider this: I will be locked up probably all day in a room with at least six lawyers, with a camera and bright lights pointed in my direction.
Unless you are undergoing brain surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, or a prostatectomy--or worse yet, you are having to watch Glenn Beck reruns all day--I probably would be happy to trade places with you.