20 years-old and sued for $40K

Young woman, long hair looks to camera, smiling.

When Asha* came to us for help, she was being sued for $40,000. Attorney Beth Goodell, who leads Legal Aid’s consumer unit, describes how her young client was suddenly saddled with enormous debt because of an abusive ex-boyfriend.

“She eventually got out of the relationship but just before she did, when she was just 19 years old, the boyfriend threatened her. He pressured her into helping him get out of jail by having her pick up a check owed to him, cashing it and taking the money to a bail bond company. Then, he disappeared.”

Consumer Attorney Beth Goodell

When Asha turned the money over, she signed papers. She thought they were to confirm she was dropping the money off. She didn’t understand what was in those papers. After a year went by, she was informed she was being sued. It turned out her boyfriend skipped out on the bail and now she was on the hook for $40K.

Goodell represented her in the court case, arguing that the debt was a result of coercion and duress. About a week before the trial, the other side gave in and released her completely from the debt. A few months later, advocates at Legal Aid helped change Minnesota state law so that it protected people who were the victims of coerced debt related to domestic violence.

Without Legal Aid, Asha’s financial future would be in jeopardy. Today, she is thriving.

*Name changed to protect client’s privacy.