Snell & Wilmer attorney wins underdog case for reunited family

Whether at a baseball game or in the courtroom, it’s always nice to see the underdog win.

Brett Ramsaur, an associate with Snell & Wilmer, took on such a pro bono bankruptcy case last year. The debtor, David

[not his real name], had filed his own chapter 7 bankruptcy case and was struggling to defend himself against a credit recovery agency. PLC approached Brett about taking on the case, and he agreed.

Pro Bono attorneys like Brett serve both as onsite volunteers at one of PLC’s many legal clinics, including the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Clinic co-hosted with the Orange County Bar Association, and as direct pro bono legal counsel on cases needing additional attention.

The whole story became clear quickly – David’s wife had finally received her visa in the spring of 2013 and could return from waiting in Guatemala, where she had been living with their children. David was excited to have his family reunited and bought furnishings for an apartment– a refrigerator and two twin beds for their children.

After threats from a different creditor and fearing his wages would be garnished, David filed his own bankruptcy case without consulting a lawyer. The furniture store– despite David’s 10-year-old account with them and having always paid his debts on time–filed suit through the credit recovery agency in the bankruptcy court claiming David committed fraud and was trying to get the furniture for free.

Brett explained that, despite a debtor’s legitimate intention to pay back the debt, creditors holding credit card debts routinely prevail in non-dischargeability proceedings because of the lower standard needed in such cases and because many chapter 7 debtors lack the resources to adequately defend themselves. Thankfully, Brett was able to document David’s entire story and filed a motion for summary judgment. The furniture store didn’t dispute any of the facts Brett presented and the judge ruled in favor of David.

“I can say it felt great, personally, because the ruling upset the plaintiff’s lawyer so much that he stormed out of the court,” said Brett. “This is a case in which it really worked out well for David. He is grateful and thankful because a huge burden has been lifted.”

Brett is already working on another pro bono case with PLC. “Pro bono work is an important aspect of working at Snell & Wilmer,” he said. “We look to participate where we can and stay active in pro bono representation.”

Click here to volunteer and get involved with PLC and the Orange County community as a pro bono attorney and sign up for our bi-monthly case list. If you are a pro bono coordinator for your firm or legal department, please contact Kirsten Kreymann at or call (714) 541-1010, ext. 283.