My wife got a summons from a debt collector (I was named on the summons, but not served any papers). We hadn't gotten any correspondence about this debt prior to the summons. My wife called the collector to arrange a settlement. They added court costs and legal fees to the settlement amount. Then they required an immediate down payment. She agreed, and paid the down payment. Since then, we called the court and found that the collector still hasn't filed the settlement with the court. The collector refuses to send us proof of the settlement in writing, insisting that "we don't need it since it is being sent to the court". What do I do now, the court date is coming up ? Also , can they add court costs to an out-of-court settlement?
I am definitely confused about the agreement. Normally, the collection agency just files a motion to dismiss the case based on a settlement being reached and they do not file a settlement agreement with the Court. I was a judge for 7 years and I did not care what agreement the parties had reached in a collections case. The one exception was when the parties reached an agreement that if the debtor did not follow the agreement, that the debtor would agree that, upon proof, that they would agree to a default judgment in the total amount. I am also unsure of what the court date is set for - for your wife to simply file an answer disputing the amount of the complaint or for the actual trial. Yes, in a settlement, they can add court costs or attorneys fees to the agreement. You would be best served by meeting with an attorney to go over the agreement and make a phone call, write an e-mail, or send a letter to the debt collector or their attorney about the agreement.
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SInce the debt collector filed a lawsuit, they can add the costs of filing and service of process to the settlement.
It is likely that the settlement agreement has not yet been filed because the collection attorney handles hundreds of cases and isn't planning to look at the file again until appearing in Court. The safest course of action, if the settlement is not filed before hand, is to appear at the court return date. It will likely be filed at that time, but if it isn't, you can file an Answer and assert the defense of "accord and satisfaction" since you have an agreement to resolve the debt and have make a payment under this agreement.
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Your description is not clear about whether or not an attorney represents the "collector." If not, then that could be a problem of a different sort. If so, the collection attorney must communicate with your wife in writing and she must sign a Stipulation to be filed with the court, which may be what the collector's attorney intends to do on the court date coming up. If so, then to be sure that a Stipulation gets properly filed, your wife should appear in court at the time on the date in question for filing an Answer to the Summons and Complaint to see what the collector's attorney is going to do, or not.
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