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Pro se in Southern Florida, where to start?

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    #16
    Well someone filed a lawsuit against me and this is what prompted me to file Chapter 7 Pro Se. Here is my thread about it in the middle district of Florida: https://www.bkforum.com/forum/before...a-pro-se-filer

    I then filed a "Suggestion of Bankruptcy" after filing my chapter 7 case. This then immediately made the lawsuit freeze and a few days later the creditor voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.

    I was successful with my Pro Se chapter 7 filing but it came at a cost I think. Around the time of my filing a large cyst developed on my head/neck and stayed there until just last month when I had it removed in a surgery. With insurance it cost me about $1,000 in co-pays and co-insurance. Without insurance it would have likely been around $20,000. It can't be proven wither way but I really do think the stress of the lawsuit and the bankruptcy filing had something to do with the cyst developing. Though I saved about $1,000 (bare bones BK attorney) it cost me hundreds of hours of my time and lots of stress. Every single day I was worried that I messed something up and would get in trouble for it or put through the ringer (audited, etc). I strongly advise getting some income and paying for a decent attorney if it is at all possible.

    That said if you are going to still do Pro Se, one tip I can give you is to use PACER (or your county clerk website for the creditor lawsuit) to try to lookup similar cases. Then study them. Especially the schedules. In Orlando they have a few computers set up where you can even look up cases in PACER for free. The catch is you have to pay per page for printing. So you can just bring a phone and snap pictures of the screen if you want. This will help you know what to expect and will help with the minor ambiguities. And of course read every word of the local rules. And I do mean every word!

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      #17
      Originally posted by dlm777 View Post
      Well someone filed a lawsuit against me and this is what prompted me to file Chapter 7 Pro Se. Here is my thread about it in the middle district of Florida: https://www.bkforum.com/forum/before...a-pro-se-filer

      I then filed a "Suggestion of Bankruptcy" after filing my chapter 7 case. This then immediately made the lawsuit freeze and a few days later the creditor voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.

      I was successful with my Pro Se chapter 7 filing but it came at a cost I think. Around the time of my filing a large cyst developed on my head/neck and stayed there until just last month when I had it removed in a surgery. With insurance it cost me about $1,000 in co-pays and co-insurance. Without insurance it would have likely been around $20,000. It can't be proven wither way but I really do think the stress of the lawsuit and the bankruptcy filing had something to do with the cyst developing. Though I saved about $1,000 (bare bones BK attorney) it cost me hundreds of hours of my time and lots of stress. Every single day I was worried that I messed something up and would get in trouble for it or put through the ringer (audited, etc). I strongly advise getting some income and paying for a decent attorney if it is at all possible.

      That said if you are going to still do Pro Se, one tip I can give you is to use PACER (or your county clerk website for the creditor lawsuit) to try to lookup similar cases. Then study them. Especially the schedules. In Orlando they have a few computers set up where you can even look up cases in PACER for free. The catch is you have to pay per page for printing. So you can just bring a phone and snap pictures of the screen if you want. This will help you know what to expect and will help with the minor ambiguities. And of course read every word of the local rules. And I do mean every word!
      Thanks!

      Yes, it looks like this will prompt me to file chapter 7, but hoping to get a pro bono lawyer because the job search has not been fruitful, yet, even though I’m applying for jobs everyday, now. Otherwise, pro se appears to be my only option. Appreciate you posting the link to your thread, that’s very helpful!

      As for filing a "Suggestion of Bankruptcy" after filing chapter 7 immediately freezing lawsuit, I’m a bit confused because I thought filing chapter 7, itself freezes lawsuit...?

      Sorry to hear about your medical issue but hope you’re feeling well, now.

      As for PACER, the county does offer free access, but TBH, it’s quite far and parking is not free so I don’t really have the money to pay for gas, back & forth and/or parking. The county clerk website has a case search option but I have to search by name, case or citation number so not really sure how to lookup similar cases.

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        #18
        Originally posted by o10845236 View Post

        Thanks!

        Yes, it looks like this will prompt me to file chapter 7, but hoping to get a pro bono lawyer because the job search has not been fruitful, yet, even though I’m applying for jobs everyday, now. Otherwise, pro se appears to be my only option. Appreciate you posting the link to your thread, that’s very helpful!

        As for filing a "Suggestion of Bankruptcy" after filing chapter 7 immediately freezing lawsuit, I’m a bit confused because I thought filing chapter 7, itself freezes lawsuit...?

        Sorry to hear about your medical issue but hope you’re feeling well, now.

        As for PACER, the county does offer free access, but TBH, it’s quite far and parking is not free so I don’t really have the money to pay for gas, back & forth and/or parking. The county clerk website has a case search option but I have to search by name, case or citation number so not really sure how to lookup similar cases.
        The Suggestion of Bankruptcy notifies the court (and the plaintiff) of the bankruptcy. It's possible they might not know of it otherwise and definitely won't sooner than you can notify them. I did it a couple days before my pre-trial was scheduled so it was important to be timely so that I didn't have to appear. If I didn't appear and failed to file the Suggestion of Bankruptcy the judge might have filed a default judgment against me. While the BK probably would have nullified that it might have caused more issues in other ways such as on my credit report, etc.

        I'm doing great! They removed the mass and thankfully determined it wasn't cancer. It wasn't fun though as for about a month my general practitioner privately told me it was highly suspicious for cancer. But things are back to normal now and the incision is healing well. I'm about two weeks post-OP.

        For looking up cases on your county site you might try searching the name of the party suing you to see their past cases. If nothing maybe try common collection agencies assuming it is a debt collector suing you. Also the middle district of Florida has an RSS feed for recent case documents filed (I linked to it on the topic I started). There might be something similar in your district? If so, maybe you can then use that to try to find similar cases. You might also try RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/ They try to provide access to some PACER documents for free. While they don't have everything or even most cases they have a lot and you should probably be able to find some similar cases to yours.

        Comment


          #19
          Originally posted by dlm777 View Post
          The Suggestion of Bankruptcy notifies the court (and the plaintiff) of the bankruptcy. It's possible they might not know of it otherwise and definitely won't sooner than you can notify them. I did it a couple days before my pre-trial was scheduled so it was important to be timely so that I didn't have to appear. If I didn't appear and failed to file the Suggestion of Bankruptcy the judge might have filed a default judgment against me. While the BK probably would have nullified that it might have caused more issues in other ways such as on my credit report, etc.

          I'm doing great! They removed the mass and thankfully determined it wasn't cancer. It wasn't fun though as for about a month my general practitioner privately told me it was highly suspicious for cancer. But things are back to normal now and the incision is healing well. I'm about two weeks post-OP.

          For looking up cases on your county site you might try searching the name of the party suing you to see their past cases. If nothing maybe try common collection agencies assuming it is a debt collector suing you. Also the middle district of Florida has an RSS feed for recent case documents filed (I linked to it on the topic I started). There might be something similar in your district? If so, maybe you can then use that to try to find similar cases. You might also try RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/ They try to provide access to some PACER documents for free. While they don't have everything or even most cases they have a lot and you should probably be able to find some similar cases to yours.
          Thanks!

          Happy to hear you’re doing great, it wasn’t cancer, things are back to normal and you’re healing well!

          If I understand correctly, the Suggestion of Bankruptcy is filed after BK is filed but before any law suit hearing date (no hearing date on clerk’s website) and in court where the law suit was filed not in BK court.

          That said, I can view the summons, which was dated 4/23. It says I’m “Each defendant (me) is required to serve written defenses to the complaint or petition on plaintiff’s (creditor) attorney...WITHIN 20 DAYS after the service of this summons upon defendant exclusive of the date of service and to file the original of the defenses with the clerk...either before service on plaintiff’s attorney or immediately thereafter. If defendant fails to do so, a default will be entered against defendant for the relief demanded in the complaint or petition.”

          Correct me if wrong, but it sounds like the 20 DAY clock doesn’t start until I’m served, which I have not been yet.

          Good call, on searching the name of the party suing me...That worked on clerk’s website. I haven’t tried courtlistener.com, yet but appreciate the heads up!

          Comment

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