I am being sued by a private student loan trust for 2 different loans ranging in size from 3k & 20k. I would love to delay judgement so I have time to get everything in order to start paying these debts. Do you have any tips or advice? Any common defenses? Thanks from PA
1 Answer from Attorneys
It depends on what court the lawsuits were filed in. If a lawsuit was filed in magistrate's court, then there is going to be no significant delay. You can file an answer, but what is it going to say? Do you have any valid defenses? Was all the evidence of your obligation attached to the complaint? There is not the same chance for discovery as there is in regular court. Things are handled on an expeditious basis in small claims and the parties are expected to exchange any documentation prior to the hearing. If its your debt and you have no valid defenses, about all you could say in an answer is a general denial. If proof of your obligation is not attached (like a promissory note or bill of sale if the debt was sold to some kind of junk debt buyer) you could ask for it but you still have to go to the hearing. There will not be much delay and if the creditor suing you can present proof then judgment is going to be entered against you.
If a lawsuit is brought in common pleas court, then there is more of a chance for delay because there you can engage in discovery if you have questions concerning the documents or wish them to be produced.
Litigation attorneys will no doubt have a different perspective and its one I don't share. For debts, litigation does not work in the traditional sense if you do not have valid defenses (like statute of limitations or proof of liability for the debt or ownership of the debt if it was sold).
For student loans, these things are very difficult. You cannot file bankruptcy and get them discharged. Rather than focus on litigation, it would be better to work out some kind of arrangement that you can live with depending on your circumstances. Also, while no one likes having a judgment, its not the lawsuit that should be the focus but whether the creditor can collect. So what is the creditor going to collect from you should a judgment be entered? There is no wage garnishment in PA for most kinds of debts (like everything, there are exceptions but I don't think there is one for private student loans). If that is the case, why do you need extra time?
As I said, I am not a litigation focused attorney. It would not hurt if you have a litigation attorney specializing in defense of debts look over the complaints and see if you have any valid defenses or objections. If not and if your wages cannot be garnished and you are basically judgment proof (you still need to take steps to protect your bank account) then no real purpose will be served by litigation. In such case, you should save your money and try to resolve when you have the funds. If you do have valid defenses/objections, then it may make sense to litigate. In such case, I would have the attorney represent you and draft an answer for you to make sure your defenses/objections are properly raised. However, this depends on if you can afford an attorney. But I would at least pay for review of the complaints and a consult.