When Judgment Collection Is Like Getting Blood from a Stone


Imagine filing a civil lawsuit against someone who owes you money. You win the lawsuit, resulting in a judgment against the other person. That judgment includes the original amount plus your court costs and a little bit extra for your trouble. Despite being elated over your victory you soon discover that collecting is like getting blood from a stone.

Unfortunately, such is the case with civil judgments more often than it should be. A group of nine plaintiffs who sued following the 2017 Charlottesville, VA rally that ended in violence is about to learn that the hard way. They recently won a $26 million judgment against leaders of some of the groups present at the rally. But none of the defendants appear to have the means to pay.

Dissolution and Other Problems

The lawsuit in question was filed against both activist groups and individuals. It turns out that many of the groups named in the lawsuit have since dissolved, leaving behind no entities capable of paying. In terms of individuals, many claim they do not have the money to pay.

Complicating matters is the fact that some of the defendants are now in jail. In the absence of any assets that could be tapped to pay the judgment, jail defendants cannot contribute. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs cannot garnish the wages of people who are not working because they are in jail.

Bringing in the Professionals

Collecting the $26 million judgment against the Charlottesville defendants is likely going to be difficult. But their case is an extreme one. A more typical judgment does not involve multiple defendants divided between individuals and organized groups.

That being said, when plaintiffs are unsuccessful in collecting what is owed to them, they can always bring in the professionals. Salt Lake City’s Judgment Collectors is one such firm. They specialize in collecting judgments in five states including Utah, California, and Arizona.

Not Standard Collection Agencies

Firms that specialize in collecting judgments are not standard collection agencies. For starters, they have access to tools and methodologies that allow them to uncover assets previously unknown or purposely hidden. Second, they have the legal authority to do certain things that are otherwise not allowed in the absence of a judgment.

For example, a judgment collection firm can garnish wages and bank accounts in states that allow garnishment. They can file on behalf of a client to foreclose on property, then sell that property and use the proceeds to pay what is owed.

Discovery Makes the Difference

What really sets a company like Judgment Collectors apart from a standard collection agency is its ability to discover assets. Firms specializing in judgments invest heavily in the discovery process, looking under every stone and around every corner. Asset discovery is the key to their success.

Using the Charlottesville case as an example, let us hypothetically say that one the defendants owns a piece of property in another state. A standard collection agency would have no way of knowing that. Nor would that agency have the means to find out. It is different for judgment collection specialists. They have the tools and resources to find that property. And once found, the property becomes leverage for payment.

Sometimes, collecting on judgments is like trying to get blood from a stone. But that’s why specialized judgment collection firms exist. They work on behalf of their clients to extract every dime possible from debtors showing any reluctance to pay. It may be like you getting blood from a stone, but if the blood is there, a good collection firm will get it.

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