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plaintiff wins judgement of $2800 for back rent - can wages be garnished?

Posted on 2006-07-13
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Last Modified: 2008-02-26
if not, in what ways can the court enforce the judgement?
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Question by:nickg5
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by:giltjr
ID: 17105374
Wouldn't it depend on state/county/city/municipality laws.
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by:lawyerboy780
lawyerboy780 earned 25 total points
ID: 17105986
common law jurisdictions - such as those in the western civilized world (hah!) - would crumble if their court orders/judgments weren't enforceable.  Civil enforcement of money judgments usually require further court process so that the successful party can transform the judgment into cash.  This means garnishee proceedings taken out against the debtors bank accounts, seizure of negotiables such as corporate shares, investments GICs etc., or garnishee summons served on third parties who owe the unsuccessful party $$$$, such as employers (in the case of an individual), parties to contracts (if business entities, or people trying to fly under the radar).  Other more sever options include seizure and sale of real property, vehicles, etc.  The downside of course is that seizure and sale costs you $$$, garnishee proceedings are usually relatively cheap.  In both cases, the debtor gets to pay the cost of enforcement, so the $2800 may at the end of the day be more like $4,000 or $5,000.

Unless you're in South America, you appear to be in the Mountain Daylight Savings Time Zone, so the above is valid for jurisdictions from the Northwest Territories down through Arizona.

Good luck
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by:nickg5
ID: 17107545
location is south carolina
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by:lawyerboy780
ID: 17107851
should still work.
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by:nickg5
ID: 17107980
she knows she can get a judgement but she wonders WHAT she can get if he has no money. All we know he has is a car and a job. That is why she is wondering if wages can be garnished for this type of judgement......back lot rent.
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by:AndrewGustely
AndrewGustely earned 25 total points
ID: 17108632
Garnishment is possible, you could also hire a collections agency with that amount. For many years I worked at a tuxedo shop (this relates I swear) and there was more than one occasion that someone just did not return a rented tuxedo. After phone calls and pestering we would eventually move on to threatening legal action. In the few cases where the threat itself didn't work, we went through with the action. We were awarded the judgement (as in all cases the defendent never showed) and left to our own devices to collect. Unfortauntly it is not necessarily easy to garnish (especially if you don't know where they work). However if you have that information, and it is a significantly higher amount (a standard tuxedo only costs about 500 dollars, rather than 2.8K) it may be worth highering a collections agency to do the foot-work (obviously it was not worth it for us)

So in conclusion, yes, garnishment is very possible. I would suggest if you are willing to risk spending more money before getting it all back (court costs, collection agency fees etc...) there's a decent chance that you'd get your money. However if he files for bankrupcy, you're most likely SOL, and out of the money you spent pursuing the case. So its a risk, but imho this particular risk is worth it.
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giltjr earned 50 total points
ID: 17108658
Don't know how current this or, or actually what it means:

     http://www.fair-debt-collection.com/state-wage-garnishments.html#41

Click on South Carolina, it states "Wage attachment is prohibited in South Carolina. SCCLA 37 -5-104."

Did your friend have a lawyer when she went to court to go after the back rent?  If so what does the lawyer say?
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by:nickg5
ID: 17108787
she has not gone to court yet.
she wants to know if it is worth $80 court fee to sue him for $2800 if he pleads "dead broke" and she can not get anything. A garnishment of wages "would" let her get something.
another option she has it to get the title to the mobile home that has caused the back rent of $2800, but the mobile home is close to worthless.
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by:giltjr
ID: 17109599
This story sounds real familiar.  Have you asked other questions about this in the past?  IIRC at one time there was a problem finding the guy and she was going to try and get the mobile home declared abandoned and take ownership.

Well on the surface spending $80 to get $2800 is a 35:1 pay off.  However it will most likely cost more than $80.  

How much time, effort, and money does she want to go through to try and get the $2,800 vs. the possibility of writing it off as a business loss?

What will it take to gain ownership of the mobile home and what is it really worth?  If it costs $500 (court costs, getting it re-titled, etc.) to gain ownership and if it is worthing nothing, is out $500.

As AndrewGustely stated, if he is that bad off and he declares bankruptcy she will most likely get nothing; no money, no mobile home.

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by:moorhouselondon
moorhouselondon earned 25 total points
ID: 17111483
I won a case against a sole trader many years ago.  He declared himself bankrupt, but it was decided by the powers that be that his pension could be drawn against to pay off his creditors.  As a result, once every few years I get a cheque for about £6.
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by:lawyerboy780
ID: 17113066
Your judgment will be good for several years, depending on your jurisdiction.  Chances are he/she won't be impecunious forever and so long as you have your judgment filed in the appropriate registry, you're likely to get something over time, and interest will accrue until either the judgment is paid in full, or he/she declares bankruptcy.  Generally, its better to pursue your judicial remedies while the facts are fresh in your mind, and the defendant is at hand to be served with court documents.

As far as business loss vs. judgment go you should be able to write it off and go for teh judgment simultaneously, but you'll have to restate the amount recovered when and if you recover.  The litigation costs can be expensed in the year they are incurred, irrespective of recovery.

Bankruptcy is not always an easy way out for debtors.  In canada at least, certain criteria have to be met, like the inability to pay debts when they become due, or assets to liability ration of less than 50 cents on the dollar, etc.  Besides, even in bankruptcy, you get to file a proof of claim and may be entitled to some of the spoils.
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by:nickg5
ID: 17116163
giltjr
......yes it is a related matter to before.
but now she has new recourse. a reward was offered for anyone who could take a name and post office box and locate a residential address and phone number, though the phone number was unlisted.
So, now that she has a "physical" address she can file civil complaint for $80 and this gets her and the other party in front of a judge, no other fees.
Also, an unknown form from DMV called, "unclaimed vehicle" will get her the chance to begin charging the guy a small storage fee per day, up to 30 days. After that, and he has not claimed his vehicle, the maigstrate in his county will award her a "magistrate's title"
So, she has two ways to go now. Another one is the guy agrees to sell it to my father who has been corresponding with the guy with a phony name, since he will not deal with me or the land lady. He forever thinks I cheated him when he signed the documents in front of a notary and his wife told him he was getting a good deal when he paid me $5400 for the mobile home.
She does not want to waste the $80 on a civil suit for $2800 if she will get nothing out of it, ex: wages can not be garnished, etc. He can plead "hardship". He might, though, offer a small amount of cash and the signed title for her to drop charges.
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