21 Dec Lawsuit To Nowhere
There is an interesting phenomenon occurring in the state court of Madison County, Illinois. Chicago area debt collection law firms are flooding the courthouse 280 miles away in downstate southern Illinois with credit card collection law suits.
Hundreds of cases are filed each month against Madison County residents. Most defendants do not appear and are defaulted into judgments. Many others appear and admit they owe the money and try to work out payment arrangements. But it is a third group of defendants that is drawing the attention of courthouse observers – the defendant that demands a trial. These are my clients.
These Chicago law firms have been seeking dismissal of their lawsuit instead of proceeding with trial against defendants who appear with an attorney and request a trial. Illinois law permits a party to voluntarily dismiss its own lawsuit without prejudice by paying the defendant’s court costs. “Without prejudice” means the plaintiff can re-file the case. In a small claims case, court costs usually amounts to less than $100. So, by paying these costs, the debt collector avoids a trial and retains the right to file a similar lawsuit on the same debt and against the same defendant another day.
Is this legal? Yes. Is this an abuse of the court system? Only time will tell if the cases are re-filed, but it appears the cat is out of the bag and the practice is drawing attention.
Andy Miofsky, Esq.
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