Q: We received a notice of intent to claim lien for unpaid front foot benefit charges (MD) that we already paid.
We have a copy of the check including the back showing that it was deposited not by the invoicing company but by a company that shares the same registered agent and address as the utility company that invoiced us. The notice states that we must file an action in circuit court to determine whether probable causes exists for the establishment of a lien. We drafted a letter to send to their attorney including copies of proof of payment and acceptance by their client (or related party) but are unsure of whether we should deal directly with their attorney or hire our own attorney to settle this matter.
A: It is generally a bad idea to deal directly with the other side's lawyer as the opposing client. It is this setting that causes more incidents of laypeople believing that lawyers are dishonest. All ethical lawyers in that setting are bound, and will, tell you the truth from their clients' perspectives, but it is the attorneys' primary duty to advance the legitimate interests of the client. Anything you say will become an admission. Anything the lawyer says is his own opinion and isn't binding. Any interpretation that the attorney can reach acting zealously within the bounds of the Law is what the lawyer should be seeking. If this matter is a simple typo or an accounting snafu, perhaps a brief inquiry to the collections department of the creditor will resolve it. But, if they have an attorney assigned, they probably already believe that they are correct. Escalating to counsel in large, intransigent corporations is often called by lawyers "finding an Intelligent Life Form," and sometimes a confusing setting like yours can be resolved between counsel in a phone call.
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