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Junk Justice: A Statistical Analysis of 4,400 Lawsuits Filed by Debt Buyers

Holland, Peter A., Junk Justice: A Statistical Analysis of 4,400 Lawsuits Filed by Debt Buyers (2014). Loyola Consumer Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 1, 2014. p. 179; U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-13. Available at SSRN:

“Debt buyers have flooded courts nationwide with collection lawsuits against consumers. This article reports the findings from the broadest in-depth study of debt buyer litigation outcomes yet undertaken. The study demonstrates that in debt buyer cases, (1) the vast majority of consumers lose the vast majority of cases by default the vast majority of the time; (2) consumers had no lawyer in ninety-eight percent of the cases; and (3) those who filed a notice that they intended to defend themselves without an attorney fared poorly, both in court and in out of court settlements. This study challenges the notion that there is an “adversary system” within the context of debt buyer lawsuits. The findings suggest that no such adversary system exists for most defendants in consumer debt cases. Instead, these cases exist in a “shadow system” with little judicial oversight, which results in mass produced default judgments. The procedural and substantive due process problems which are endemic in debt buyer cases call for heightened awareness and remedial action by the bench, the bar, and the academy. As lawyers who are “public citizens, with a special responsibility for the quality of justice,” the profession can do better. This article proposes suggestions for further study, and several common sense reforms.”

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