Mitchell Rubenstein & Associates PC (“MR&A”), maintains a high volume retail and commercial collections practice throughout Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia. The firm is engaged in the recovery of commercial and retail accounts including, but not limited to, credit card accounts, consumer loans, DDA/charge-off accounts, medical claims and auto deficiency accounts. The legal services provided by MR&A encompass all phases of the collections process, from pre-suit dunning through post-judgment execution.
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Legal Action Overview: Timeline, Client Cost & Reporting:
Upon receipt of a new account, MR&A will forward a case acknowledgement report to the client and mail a demand letter to the debtor within 3 business days following receipt. A demand letter shall be mailed to the debtor on the same date. Should the debtor fail to respond within the 30 day period provided for under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the firm will immediately prepare to file suit unless otherwise instructed by the client.
District Court Cases:
For cases filed in Maryland and Virginia, MR&A will file suit within 10 days of receiving the executed affidavits from the client, or upon the expiration of the 30 day Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) period, whichever is later. As the District of Columbia requires that all new lawsuits be hand-filed, complaints will only be filed on MR&A’s standard Return Day. This Return Day occurs at least once each month.
In the District of Columbia, an initial Return Day is scheduled within approximately 30 days from the date action is filed. If the defendant fails to appear on this date, a judgment will be entered based upon the affidavits. If the matter is contested, the court will reset the case for hearing. A contested case will be set for mediation approximately 30 days after the first Return Day. If the case cannot be resolved through mediation, a trial date will be set approximately 30 days after the mediation date.
In Maryland, there are no Return Days. The Courts do, however, provide for the entry of an affidavit judgment on the initial court date if the defendant fails to answer the complaint within 15 days of service. If the defendant files a Notice of Intention to Defend, the Court will set the matter for trial. Depending on the county in which suit is filed, this trial date can be anywhere from 30 to 120 days after the lawsuit is filed.
In Virginia, an initial Return Day is scheduled within approximately 45 days from the date the action is filed. If the defendant does not appear, a judgment will be entered based upon the Affidavit. As a general rule, all original documents and/or contracts must be submitted to the Court at that time to support the request for judgment. If the defendant appears and contests the case, the matter is generally scheduled for a trial within 45 days to 90 days; this is dependent upon the particular jurisdiction and the caseload of the respective court. In general, mediation is not available, except when provided by the Court (Fairfax County, the City of Alexandria and Loudoun County) and mutually agreed upon by the parties.
In Maryland and the District of Columbia, the defendant’s appeal period runs within 30 days from the entry of judgment. After that point, the defendant can only attack the judgment under extraordinary circumstances. As such, a creditor can most effectively proceed with post-judgment collection activity once the initial appeal period has run. In Virginia, an appeal from the General District Court must be noted within ten (10) calendar days and must be perfected (with the posting of a bond when required by the Judge) within thirty (30) calendar days from judgment.
Circuit Court Cases in Maryland and Virginia
Civil Action Cases in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
In the District of Columbia, a Complaint is filed and the Court assigns the case to a “calendar”. The nature and particular rules of the respective “calendar” will govern the nature of the procedure throughout the case. These rules are ascertained when the parties appear at the Initial Status Conference ordered by the Court. As the proceedings of the litigation and the governing rules will vary based upon the “calendar” to which the case is assigned, our office will advise you of the litigation timeline and rules upon completion of the Initial Status Conference.
In Maryland, a Complaint is filed and the Court issues a Summons within approximately 30 days. Service is affected upon the defendant via private process. Once served, the defendant must file a written Answer within 30 days. If the defendant fails to answer the Complaint timely, a Motion for Entry of a Default Judgment will be filed with the Court. A default judgment will then be entered. In the event an Answer is filed, the Court will set the matter for an initial Scheduling Conference within approximately 60 to 90 days. While the litigation timeline for each Circuit Court varies by county, the Court will issue a Scheduling Order at the initial Scheduling Conference that will govern the course of litigation through trial. Our office will promptly advise you of the litigation schedule upon entry of the Scheduling Order.
In Virginia, a Motion for Judgment is filed with the Court and the defendant is served once the Court prepares the requisite notices. Once served, the defendant must file a written Answer within 21 days. If the defendant fails to answer, a Motion for Entry of a Default Judgment must be filed with the Court. An attorney from our office shall personally appear before the Court, to obtain the Final Order. Each Circuit Court within Virginia, however, has very different local procedures with respect to litigating the case through trial if the matter is contested. For example, Fairfax County schedules a Status Conference within 60 days of filing the Motion for Judgment and a rigid schedule of discovery deadlines is established. In Arlington County, however, it is the responsibility of counsel to schedule a trial date at an available “Term Day”; no deadlines are established unless counsel drafts a case specific order for the Judge to enter. Due to the disparate procedures, our office will advise you of the governing timeline and court procedures on a case-by-case basis.
II: Legal Costs
The costs of filing an action in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia are all quite different. Please contact our office to receive a schedule of fees for all courts discussed herein.
In addition to the foregoing court costs, there will be costs for service of process with respect to service of the lawsuit upon the debtor. Please contact our office to ascertain the service cost within each of the jurisdictions and respective counties/cites therein.
As can easily be ascertained from the foregoing, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia have disparate laws and procedures. Furthermore, the specific procedures utilized in many counties within the jurisdictions are extremely varied. Based on our extensive experience in all three jurisdictions, we are confident that our clients will experience a rapid and successful resolution of their claims.
The foregoing overview explains the general timeline for legal action in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, the associated costs and the nature of the monthly reporting provided to each client of MR&A. Please be aware, however, that when dealing with the court system, all time schedules are approximate. While we have attempted to provide you with a fairly comprehensive overview of the legal proceedings in our practice jurisdictions, we understand that additional questions may arise. As such, please feel free to Contact us if you should require any additional information. We look forward to the opportunity of serving your legal needs