Sit down with an attorney to discuss.
Some key questions:
Were you properly served?
Can Midland Funding prove it owns the alleged debt?
Did you timely request verification in writing under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and, if so, was there any response?
Has the plaintiff complied with the licensing requirements under the Illinois Collection Agency Act?
Did they attach any assignments to the complaint?
Are you disputing the debt?
Whatever you do, do not ignore the lawsuit. Get your written appearance on file by the return date (if you do that, there is no need to file an answer and all allegations in the complaint will be deemed denied).
You can see if you can settle the matter (lump sum or payment plan), offering documents including a personal financial statement if you’re okay with that to help the plaintiff’s attorney convince his or her client to take whatever offer you care to make.
In case the matter goes to trial and the plaintiff prevails, check out Illinois Supreme Court Rule 288 (http://www.state.il.us/court/supremecourt/rules/Art_II/ArtII.htm#288). Also, here is a link to information as to exemption rights: http://www.illinoisprobono.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.dsp_Content&contentID=297.
If it turns out that the plaintiff has to dismiss its case without prejudice, make sure you demand your costs (to which you would technically be entitled prior to dismissal— http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/073500050K2-1009.htm).
Robert T. Kuehl
Kuehl Law, P.C.
You don't deny the debt and the amount, correct? In that case, it's not likely you would "win" the lawsuit. That said, you should try to work out some type of pay arrangement with them. You don't want them to obtain a judgment against you, which would be reported to the credit reporting bureaus and would also put the judgment-creditor in a position to follow you for quite some time, garnish wages, freeze bank accounts, etc.
Advice on this forum is for informational purposes only and should never be mistaken as a substitute for legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, you should consult local legal counsel.
If they have the paperwork to prove the debt or you acknowledge it then you will likely lose with or without a lawyer. Considering your income and a large amount of student loan debt a Chapter 7 bankruptcy should be an important consideration before your income gets to high to push you into a Chapter 13. There also may be other debts out there besides these two and the amounts are just growing because of interest. Pull a credit report and speak with a bankruptcy lawyer to see if it makes sense to do a Chapter 7. You could always call me at 312-924-0227 to discuss. Other options are trying to settle by making payments but they can just garnish you and maybe get more money with that than an installment payment by agreement.
The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Illinois. Responses are answers to general legal questions and the receiver of such question should consult a local attorney for specific answers to questions.
Without detracting from what others have said, I would add that this is a "small claims" (a case worth less than $10,000). As such, the judge has the discretion to order a payment plan of up to 36 months (at 9% "judgment interest). Most debt collectors and their attorneys know this are accustomed to working with it. If you can't make a deal to your liking, then consider asking the judge to impose a 36 months payment plan. I would not recommend disclosing your place of employment or your earnings to the collection attorney---- you have very little to gain. Finally and unfortunately, you are experiencing the dynamic of the "small claims" environment----- even if you have a defense to the case, it may be too difficult or costly to assert it when the case is worth such a "small" amount. Ciao.