Archive | March, 2012

District Justice vs. Court of Common Pleas

I get asked quite often about the difference between the District Justice and the Court of Common Pleas.  The differences are many.  The most important difference is that the District Justice is an elected official.  Anyone can be a District Justice, that is, anyone who can win the election.  In most instances, District Justices ARE NOT attorneys.  There are a few who are attorneys, but I would estimate that less than 10% are attorneys.  The District Justice claim is capped at $12,000.  If your claim is over $12,000 then you must proceed to the Court of Common Pleas.  Claims at $12,000 or below may be filed in either court.  The proceedings in front of a magistrate are usually very informal.  Rules of evidence are followed, but to a lesser degree in many instances.

The Court of Common Pleas is divided into two divisions —  Arbitration and regular court.  Arbitration is mandatory for all claims that are $$25,000 or less (this number varies from County to County, but $25,000 is the norm).  At arbitration, your case is heard by three attorneys picked at random from the community who act as judge and jury.  In regular court, a Common Pleas Judge will be assigned to your case.

Posted in Other

Portfolio Recovery Associates – Who are they?

We have seen a surge in recent lawsuits being filed by Portfolio Recovery Associates.  Portfolio Recovery is a large company whose sole business is to purchase allegedly delinquent credit card accounts for pennies on the dollar and then try to collect on the full amount. The most recent data that we have seen shows that Portfolio is now purchasing bad debt for 1.75 cents on the dollar.  A great price for them, don’t you think?  Generally, after purchase, Portfolio  will send a letter to you (they are required to do this by law, but they do not always do it) and/or they will call you.  They do not want  to sue you, they want to collect money from you, and they hope that you will voluntarily pay them.  A lawsuit will occur if you do not.  I have not seen many instances where Portfolio sells its accounts to other purchasers, so if they obtain your account, you either pay them or they will sue you.

That may scare most people, but it shouldn’t scare you.  If you are here reading this, then you are smarter than most of the general public.  It means that you are doing research, and that is a good thing.  It also means that you are doing research in the right place, which is even better.  The truth of it is that a lawsuit filed by Portfolio Recovery Associates in Pennsylvania should not scare you.  It should concern you, sure, but it should not scare you.

When Portfolio purchases these accounts, in most instances they do not obtain the documentary evidence that they need to prevail against you in a court of law.  Their business model is based on 3 things:  1) they acquire the accounts cheaply; 2) they assume that many people will be frightened and will pay them voluntarily; 3) they assume that you are not smart enough to contact and/or hire an attorney.

Posted in Collection Agencies, Lawsuits, Portfolio Recovery


Credit Card Lawsuits

If you are faced with a credit card lawsuit, whether its an original creditor or a junk debt buyer, contact my office at 412-823-8003 right away. We offer a free, no obligation review of any credit card based lawsuit that is filed in PA.

FDCPA Attorneys

Many Debt Collectors threaten people, that's a fact. Threats of wage garnishment, jail, fraud charges and contacting employers, friends and relatives happens every day to people just like you. The truth is that most of these threats are illegal. If a debt collector is threatening you, contact our office at 412-823-8003 for a free initial consultation.
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