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Tips on settling and negotiating a payment plan as a defendant in a civil case

Los Angeles, CA |

How would you minimize damages claimed?
How would you enforce an effective strategy to lay out a payment plan?
How to appeal to the plaintiffs?

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

The strategy is going to depend upon the age of the debt, the amount, and whether the debt was assigned to a third party or is the original creditor.

Generally speaking, if a lawsuit has already been filed, you should file an Answer first, before you negotiate.

You are usually better off if you make the first settlement proposal, rather than having to respond to the plaintiff's demand.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.

Asker

Posted

Thank you, I am in the process of filing an answer due in two and a half weeks. Should I make a settlement proposal directly to the plaintiff's lawyer? Or wait until the CMC and ADR thereafter?

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Posted

You should make your proposal to plaintiff's counsel AFTER you file your Answer, and BEFORE the CMC. Settlement is one of the issues you need to meet and confer on pursuant to Rule 3.724 of the California Rules of Court anyway, so it won't be awkward. http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/case-management-conferences-in-california?ref=kb_serp_title_2

Asker

Posted

Your posts and CMC guide is VERY helpful to me! From your experience on settlements, are setting up monthly payments on a contract a norm? I understand that it is quite dependent on the plaintiffs, and that if one were to violate such, a judgement can be pursued and wages garnished.

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Posted

If you desire a payment plan, typically the plaintiff will want a stipulation for entry of judgment wherein the judgment (for a slightly higher amount and/or with attorney's fees) kicks in if you default.

Asker

Posted

A stipulation seems like a great thing to lay on the table to make the settlement more appealing for the plaintiffs. If you were to negotiate such a plan and based on wage garnishments being 25% max of take home pay, do you have a figure on which to start negotiating at and offer? I wouldn't want to offer too low where they wouldn't even want to look at the settlement.

Posted

If you're a defendant, you absolutely must get your answer filed before doing anything else. Your goal is to gain as much leverage as possible, in order to maximize your bargaining position. Your other questions are highly dependent on the facts of your case, so if you want to provide more information, we can probably provide more detailed answers.

Eric Ridley can be reached by phone: (805) 244-5291, by email: ridley.eric@gmail.com, or at http://www.ridleylawoffices.com This answer is intended to provide general information only. It does not create an Attorney-Client relationship, nor should it be construed as legal advice or an opinion on specific situations. Eric D. Ridley is licensed to practice law in California. The Law Offices of Eric Ridley emphasizes Estate Planning, Bankruptcy and Consumer Law & Litigation.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your response. $10k embezzlement, and the plaintiffs want to also sue for legal fees and punitive damages for the following: 1. Conversion 2. Breach of Fiduciary Duty 3. Fraud 4. Constructive fraud 5. Breach of contract I have no money upfront and I'd like to do monthly payments equivalent to 25% of my monthly take home pay, around $500. What do you think is a good figure to start at? I want to absolutely avoid wage garnishment. In the case that they refuse and it goes to trial and the judge enters a judgement, will I still then have the option of arranging payments?

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Posted

Yes, you can usually negotiate a payment plan even if a judgment is entered against you. However, you obviously will have much less negotiation leverage after a judgment is entered.

Posted

you should hire a lawyer who handles these cases on a regular basis. the money you will spend will be well worth it.

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