Lately, a lot of people have discovered that a debt collector took a judgment against them in a lawsuit they never even knew about itAugust 9, 2012
That’s not fair, it’s a violation of due process. By the time they discover this, it is usually too late to file an appeal, but it may still be possible to challenge it with a legal action called a bill of review. I’m handling a number of these bills of review at the moment.
Meanwhile, if the reason you discovered the judgment is because you are trying to sell or refinance your Texas homestead and the lender or title company claims this judgment has put a lien on your homestead, they’re wrong but there is a procedure you can follow to prove to the lender or title company that the lien does not attach to your homestead.
You can find the procedure and the form in Section 52.0012 of the Texas Property Code. This is something you can do yourself, but you need to read the statute carefully and do it exactly right. If you need help with this, it should relatively simple matter for a lawyer to handle. That is part of the service we can provide when we do a bill of review, or if you just want us to handle getting the release of the lien for your homestead under Section 52.0012, we would charge a flat fee of $200.
Bills of Review are not easy, but if your deadline to file an appeal has run out, this is the only way to challenge the judgment. The Bill of Review is a separate lawsuit that we have to file to attack the judgment. We have to prove that it was not your fault that you didn’t file an answer to the lawsuit or show up for court, which usually is because you were never served with the lawsuit and had no notice of it. We also have to prove that you have a defense to the lawsuit. If we win the bill of review, the judgment is no longer any good, but we may still have to defend the original lawsuit. So it is really two lawsuits in one, and we will have court costs for filing the bill of review. For this reason, it costs about twice as much or more as what we would have charged just to defend the original lawsuit. Still, that may be much cheaper than trying to settle with a junk debt collector. Because if we can prevail on the bill of review, the junk debt collector is likely to give up or lose once we start defending the original case. I can say that after about 125 junk debt cases and no losses.