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Arbitration in Junk Debt Buyer Collection Lawsuits in Arizona Courts

Arbitration in Junk Debt Buyer Collection Lawsuits in Arizona Courts


- Hey everybody, here from the Arizona Consumer Law Group. And in today's video, I wanted to touch on something that's unique to debt collection cases in Arizona. And that is the compulsory arbitration process. In my law practice, I help people who have been sued by junk debt buyers, like Midland Funding, Portfolio Recovery Associates, Cavalry SPV, and even sometimes student loan junk debt buyers like National Collegiate Student Loan Trust.

And in these types of cases, many of them are filed in Arizona's justice court system.

That means that the amount that the creditor is seeking is less than $10,000. However, we see a large number of cases, including those student loan cases filed by National Collegiate Student Loan Trust, that are filed in the Superior Court system. Now in Arizona, for cases to be filed in the Superior Court, the amount in dispute must be more than $10,000. And if you're in the Superior Court process, Arizona has this unique little process that you have to go through, called compulsory arbitration, and a lot of people get confused by it, so in this video I wanted to explain what it is and how it impacts your overall case. So, if you've been sued by a junk debt buyer and you're in Superior Court, you're going to get notified that your case has been referred to an arbitrator for this compulsory arbitration process.

Now, this is only in cases that are in Superior Court and that are below the local rule as far as the amount that's in dispute.

And what I mean by that is each county is a little bit different. So in Maricopa County, if the amount in dispute is more than $10,000 but less than $50,000, then the parties are required to go through the arbitration process. In some of the other counties, Coconino is $65,000, has to be less than $65,000, Pima, it's $50,000, Pinal County, the amount in dispute must be less than $40,000, and in Yavapai, it has to be less than $65,000. So each county is a little bit different as far as which cases are going to be subject to the arbitration process, but if it's under 50, then roughly you're going to be in the arbitration process.

So what they do is they assign an arbitrator to hear your case. The initial stages of the case are normal as far as filing the answer and going through discovery, but at some point, the arbitrator is going to be assigned.

Now this arbitrator is another attorney who has been assigned at random by the court to act as the arbitrator in your case. This is kind of like jury duty for attorneys. It's something you do because you're a member of the local bar.

And what they will do is they will set up the arbitration hearing. Now this is kind of an informal trial type setting, where the arbitrator, usually at their office, will have the parties come in, and they will go through the process of having the plaintiff, the debt collector or the debt buyer, put on their case for the court. So the arbitrator, or the plaintiff will come in, the debt buyer will put on all their evidence, they may have a witness, usually it's over the telephone, and then you as the defendant will have an opportunity to cross-examine their witnesses, and to present your side of the case.

Arbitration in Junk Debt Buyer Collection Lawsuits in Arizona Courts

Now, this process, it's trial-like in that evidence is submitted, witnesses are allowed to give testimony, but the rules that govern this are much more relaxed, and it's much easier for a debt buyer to get evidence into the process, and for the arbitrator to consider it, than it would be in a formal trial in the Superior Court. So after both sides have had an opportunity to present their evidence, then the arbitrator will make a decision.

Sometimes they'll make a decision right then and there at the arbitration hearing; other times they will send it out in writing at a later point. If either side does not like the result, as far as what the arbitrator ruled on, then they both can appeal it back to the Superior Court where a normal trial before the judge or before a jury will be set. There's a 20-day window from the time that the arbitrator enters their ruling until you have to file your appeal to make sure that the case will go on to the actual trial.

It's important to note: if you don't appeal the ruling of the arbitrator, it becomes final after 20 days, and you'll no longer be able to have the case proceed to an actual trial. So, the arbitration process, it can be good for resolving cases.

It's kind of hit or miss. Because the arbitrators are randomly assigned, you may get an attorney who steps in who is very skilled at courtroom-type presentations, they understand the rules of evidence. You may get an attorney that is not even practicing. Or you may get an attorney that does wills and trusts and doesn't do courtroom practice, and so it's kind of hit and miss how that goes. And because of that, I generally tell clients that you can't guarantee any type of specific result is going to happen from arbitration, but you're required to go through it.

I can tell you it is my experience, if you can defeat the debt buyer in arbitration, many times they don't appeal that and they just let the case end at that point. So that is just really, in a nutshell, the arbitration process in Arizona.

For better or for worse, if you're in Superior Court and the amount in dispute is less than roughly $50,000, you're likely going to have to participate in that. So if you want to learn more about junk debt buyer cases, and some of the defenses that are out there, or how me and my office can help you in fighting back against these junk debt buyers, you could head on over to my website at ConsumerWarrior.com, that's ConsumerWarrior.

com, where we have all kinds of resources and templates to help you out.

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