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Dave Kennett
Dave Kennett, Lawyer (JD)
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27689
Experience:  25 years experience in general law, including real estate, criminal, traffic, and domestic relations
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I am set to go to trial tomorrow morning for a case in civil

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I am set to go to trial tomorrow morning for a case in civil courts. I am being sued by a collection debt company. I filed pro se along with my answer along with my affirmative defenses. I did not receive anything from the Plaintiff or the lawyers, except yesterday I received a letter in the mail saying they will motion to dismiss without prejudice. Also note they did a 3rd party disclosure sending information about the case to a lawyer who did not file an appearance on my behalf nor is he representing me. My questions are this, how to get my case to be dismissed with prejudice? do I still go to court tomorrow? how do I collect the money I paid for court costs or get reimbursed? do I have a case against them for sending information concerning my case to someone who is not my representative?
Dear JACUSTOMER - You cannot force them to dismiss with prejudice however the fact that they are dismissing at all is always a positive sign. Generally it indicates that they do not have what is necessary to prove the case and, although they can refile within a year, many times the case simply goes away. You do not lose any of your defenses to the cause of action and you can save all of your paperwork so that you have everything necessary to file another answer if it becomes necessary. You simply have no way to get a dismissal with prejudice since this is a voluntary action on the part of the plaintiff. You need to make certain you either attend the trial or contact the court to make certain the case has, in fact, been dismissed. As for sending the information to another attorney, there is no confidentially between you and the plaintiff's attorney so they could send the information to anyone they please. In addition, all court cases are a matter of public record so theoretically anyone could simply go to the clerk if courts and read the entire file. The sending of the information is not an issue in the case.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

"No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains [subject to 12 exceptions]." 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b).


So this does not apply to my situation?


I understand its a voluntary decision on behalf of the Plaintiff, but can I object to it on the date of the trial, or at least plead my case to the judge in order for it to be dismissed with prejudice or is that a separate filing on my behalf?


What about getting a refund for my appearance cost? Do I ask for it from the court after or during the trial?

Is your suit in Federal Court? You cited a Federal statute and it applies to "agencies" disclosing information. I assure you that all filings in civil court cases are a matter of public record and the Federal statute does not apply to civil attorneys in state courts. The civil rules provide that any plaintiff may voluntarily dismiss the complaint with or without prejudice at any time before trial unless there is a counterclaim filed by the defendant so the plaintiff had the right to dismiss. You cannot be compensated for attorney fees or your appearance costs unless there is some fraud being committed to which a dismissal would not be relevant. All of the things you are discussing involve the civil rules of procedure which are very complicated and generally unfamiliar to any pro se litigant. I can only explain in general as the civil rules are very complex and take an entire year of a law school course. Even then they are sometimes confusing as to how they are applied. I can only tell you that, based on your facts the plaintiff has not violated the rules and disclosing non confidential or public information is not a violation of any law. If you want to file a motion for a dismissal with prejudice you can do so as a separate motion to the court and base it on the actions of the plaintiff causing you all of this work and then dismissing at the last moment and causing you excessive time in preparation. Whether the judge will agree I cannot say but having a dismissal without prejudice is far better than having a trial.
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