APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and For the County of Cascade, Cause No. DDV-11-0221 Honorable Dirk M. Sandefur, Presiding Judge
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Patricia O. Cotter
Submitted on Briefs: July 11, 2012
Justice Patricia O. Cotter delivered the Opinion of the Court.
¶1 Sharon McCrea, acting as a self-represented litigant, appeals the decision of the Eighth Judicial District Court awarding judgment of $8,487.96 to CBM Collections, a Missoula collection agency. We affirm.
¶2 A restatement of the issue on appeal is:
¶3 Did the District Court err by denying McCrea's motion for a hearing on exemption and her motion to strike?
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
¶4 Sharon McCrea owed Partnership Health Center $32. She also had an outstanding debt of $5,793.92 on a credit card with the Missoula Federal Credit Union (MFCU) and had fallen behind on her payments. McCrea was notified that these debts were being assigned to CBM for collection. CBM filed its Complaint in March 2011 seeking the full amount owed plus interest and fees.
¶5 McCrea, representing herself, filed her Answer to CBM's Complaint in April 2011. She did not deny owing the debts nor did she deny any of the allegations set forth in the Complaint. McCrea's answer was directed more toward the conduct of MFCU than it was to the conduct of CBM. She argued that MFCU was unfairly and deliberately targeting her for collection and that the matter should be "remanded" to the credit union so that she could continue making payments. She sought discovery of credit card documents and her cell phone billing statements to establish that she had been in regular contact with the MFCU in an attempt to resolve the matter.
¶6 CBM moved for judgment on the pleadings and, on June 6, 2011, the District Court, without ruling on McCrea's "Motion for Judge's Approval for Subpoena Duces Tecum," granted judgment to CBM in the amount of $8,487.96, which included the outstanding amounts due together with interest, collection agency fees, court filing fee, and service of process fee.
¶7 Following the entry of judgment against her, McCrea filed a Request for Hearing for Exemptions in July 2011. She claimed that the $911 levied from her bank account as part of the judgment execution should be exempt. She also cited several specific exemptions provided in § 25-13-609, MCA, such as household furnishings and a motor vehicle. In her motion seeking a hearing on claimed exemptions, she asserted CBM violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. CBM filed an objection to McCrea's hearing request, arguing that § 25-13-609, MCA, does not provide an exemption for a bank account; therefore, CBM rightfully seized money from McCrea's bank account to satisfy the judgment. McCrea filed a motion to strike CBM's objection. On November 2, 2011, the District Court, without rationale or explanation, denied McCrea's motions for a hearing and to strike. It is from this order that McCrea appeals.
¶8 McCrea subsequently moved to stay the execution of judgment during appeal, and filed a notice of appeal on November 30, 2011. On December 20, 2011, the District Court issued an "Order Amending Prior Order in re Asserted Execution Exemptions and Order Denying Motions for Stay, Appeal without Bond and Ruling on Fair Debt Collection Claims" ...