Forum Rules (Everyone Must Read!!!) (updated: 04/28/2015)

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Need help with appropriate attorney fee for a filing in response to a judgment.

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  • Need help with appropriate attorney fee for a filing in response to a judgment.

    My sister is a victim of identity theft. An employee of Countrywide Bank was terminated and gained access to many customers' personal financial info, including SS #'s. Countrywide notified her that she may have been among those whose info was stolen. My sister didn't think much of it because she had just gone through bankruptcy and didn't think anyone could open credit in her name.......because she couldn't (couldn't even get a debit card at that time). She then became aware that someone had opened an account in her name to acquire a $2500 computer, which was shipped to a state she never lived in. There was a couple other accounts opened in her name as well. She filed a couple of police reports and placed an alert on her credit reports. She told the company who issued the credit for the computer that she was a victim of identiy theft, but they continued to pursue her and they finally placed a judgment against her in December. She went to an attorney and he quoted her $500 - $700 to respond to the courts. She then received a bill for $760 to file a simple letter to the court. Her consultation with him was less than one-half hour. Does any attorney (or anyone reading this board) feel this is an appropriate fee for this attorney's work in this matter? My sister is quite unassertive and totally baffled by the law. She's gone through enough with her bankruptcy, losing her home and now this. I'm just trying to help in some small way to save her a few dollars.

  • #2
    It's hard to know what an appropriate fee is without more details of what the attorney did and what the actual agreement with the attorney was. It sounds like your sister ignored a lawsuit and the creditor got a default judgement. You call the document filed with the court a "simple letter." But, based on the information you provided, I suspect they filed a petition to set aside a default judgement. It may look simple to you, but there often is substantial work behind a document that looks simple. $760 is probably a reasonable fee. To completely deal with the situation, it may cost even more. If the judgement was set aside, it was probably set aside without prejudice, meaning the creditor can file another lawsuit or continue the suit it already filed. Your sister will need to respond to the lawsuit. Unfortunately, it may cost her more than $2500 to do that. If the work that cost $760 somehow got rid of the lawsuit forever, the fee is more than reasonable.
    LadyInTheRed is in the black!
    Filed Chap 13 April 2010. Discharged May 2015.
    $143,000 in debt discharged for $36,500, including attorneys fees. Money well spent!


    • #3
      Oh, mean this may not be done yet! I suppose she should have just shown up in court herself to explain what happened. This makes no sense that she should have to go through such an expense to defend against something that Countrywide Bank was ultimately responsible for.......and the idiot creditor that gave this bogus person credit in the first place. Since I haven't seen all the paperwork (I live in another state), I'll have to make a trip to MI to weed through all the documents.

      Thanks very much for your informative response.


      • #4
        $700 is a bargain if what the attorney did is what Lady in Red described. It can be difficult to over turn a default judgment as you generally need a good reason and it must be done within a certain time. Most attorneys I know don't even go near these for less than $2,000 because as pointed out, all it does is over turn the judgment, there is still the underlying case (the debt) that needs to be resolved.


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