Dolly Defendant came to the mediation with her attorney whom we shall call Larry Lawyer.
Hazel Brown represented Debt Buyer, L.L.C.
The case appeared to be routine – a person who had experienced some hard times and gotten behind on her credit card, so I moved through my opening statement quickly.
BACKGROUND O F THE CASE
Dolly had a credit card, in her name only, to which her husband had charged some of their business items, with her knowledge and permission. They subsequently got a divorce with the agreement and court order that he would take this debt after the divorce.
As the years went by, he became affluent and she took a job as an administrative assistant in a dental office and was the primary provider for their three children. He paid on the card after the divorce for some time but quit paying at the time when a $3000 balance remained.
The balance, growing at 24.9 % brought the principal balance due to $7705.00.
Debt Buyer, L.L.C. acquires the account, more time and interest, attorney fees and present demand was about $13.000.
Dolly was angry when her lawyer explained that she was still legally liable for the debt. She would have to take legal action against her ex-husband to force him to pay.
We discuss the statute of limitations question until the defense lawyer decides that they do not have a valid defense there. Dolly is quiet and obviously very angry.
As it turns out, she is primarily angry with ex-husband who has stuck her with his debt.
He is down the line emotionally, remarried, and has zero interest in assisting her. She gets him on the phone several times during the mediation and he says, “ Let them get a judgment on you, they can’t collect anything anyway because you are broke and always will be”.
He is talking loud and fast and she appears to be intimidated, bullied, and the tears are rolling. Finally she says to him, “ Here you tell the mediator yourself.”
And with that she thrusts the phone at me.
SHE HANDS ME THE PHONE
He continues the loud bluster, first telling me that he does not have any money, then blaming her for dragging him into her lawsuit, then blaming the bank for charging too much interest, in between time telling me how successful he has become after ‘dumping her’.
My saturation point with his baloney is finally reached , so I interrupt and say, “Now Bob let me see if I am getting this straight. You charged these goods to her card, agreed to pay after the divorce, were ordered by the divorce court to pay, did not clear it up, and now you want her to carry your load, and for her to get stuck with a $13.000.00 judgment. Do I have it right?”
He then began to ask how much money it would take to just get this settled today?
They were able to negotiate a favorable discount for cash and they reached full and final settlement.
Each of the participants turned from dour to cheerful as often happens after settlement.
LESSON TO BE LEARNED
Look to see if all the necessary decision makers are going to be present at the mediation. Bob would probably have refused to come but it would have been better if he were there.
For help with your credit card debt negotiations go to www.TexasMediationGroup.com/contact-us