Called plaintiff's attorney's office (civil case unlimited in CA) to "meet and confer", since have no job, surplus income or real property, when asked about settlement, I said no. Lawyer said "see you in court" and hung up. Could not finish with the Meet and Confer requirements. Now what do I put on the CM-110? Should I submit a counter suit, since I still have no validation of the debt?
I would like to avoid a Dismissal without prejudice, since I have affirmative defenses that involve new contracts and evidence of payments accepted as consideration by the plaintiff, etc. This case should end soon without trial and, but I want to make motions to the court, to speed up the process. How can I be proactive in this type of (or any) case?
With respect to the meet and confer question on the last page of CM-110, you should state exactly what happened (that the plaintiff's counsel refuses, said see you in court and hung up on you).
To be pro-active, you need to propound written discovery and you need to send out a Demand for Bill of Particulars. The case ain't going away as easily or as quickly as you may think (or wish).
The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
Administrative Law Lawyer
Even though the attorney was rude and dismissive, you still have meet and confer obligations in the course of discovery. However,you can meet these obligations through the use of meet and confer letters that are plainly identified as for that purpose and are otherwise in satisfaction of your substantive meet and confer obligations.
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The meet and confer requirement is set forth in California Rules of Court rule 3.724 and is contmplates more than discussing discovery. The rule requires a good faith meeting to discuss discovery, motions, limiting issues and alternative dispute resolution. I agree you should factually relate why the meet and confer did not take place as well as confirm what happened in a letter or email to counsel.
Since you are in propria persona (representing yourself) I think you should also consider alternative dispute resolution (a settlement conference in front of a judge or mediation) and should note this on your CMC statement. Prior to any settlement attempt, get as much information on the debt and any defenses by discovery. I wrote an article on debt collection and there are many helpful links in that article including one to the Federal Trade Commission that discuss validation of a debt.
I also agree that despite your current financial circumstances, this debt has gone beyond the collection stage and in to the courts and the plaintiff may not just "go away" due to your solvency. As to filing a "countersuit" the time to file is within the time to file an answer (where you also should have raised those "affirmative defenses" you mention. You may have to file a separate motion to allow the filing, since I am assuming if you are at the CMC stage you have already answered the complaint.
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Personal Injury Lawyer
Sorry buddy, you need to get a lawyer. Playing lawyer when real money is at statke can be very dangerous!
Document the meet and confer attempt, but no real bang for the buck! If you are pro per, the judge will have no real problem with a weak meet and confer. Say on the CM statement they refused all attempts.
Find a good lawyer, if you have a valid cross complaint run with it. Maybe you have an attorney fee provision that will help you find counsel. GOOD LUCK!!