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fontanamatt

Guest
What is the name of your state? wa at a stop sign a man got out of his car and threatened me so I beat him up pretty bad, i was 19 years old at the time,i felt like i was using self defense. i am now 28 i was never arrested or charged with any crime. the police even came to my house and i gave them a statement and that was that. then 2 years later in 1994 he sued me in civil court for $40,000. i was young and ignorant about the law. i failed to appear and that is when the judgement of default came from. i thought that since i was never charged with a crime nor was i arrested or anything that i didn't need to respond. big mistake because now 9.5 years later a collection agency is trying to collect $60,000 from me. from what i understand i can try to re-open the case or maybe cease and decist order could slow them down but i am just losing sleep you know, worried, etc.
 


Ladynred

Senior Member
Chances are that the term for the judgment is about to run out, so the CA is making an effort to collect. Judgments can be renewed, but unless the guy who brought the judgment against you follows through and renews it, then it dies. You're close to the wire, maybe the guy isn't going to renew.. who knows. You probably ought to call the court where the judgment was granted and find out what the status is, if there's any proceedings to renew.

Halket's our expert on judgments, perhaps he'll lend his expertise on this one ?????
 
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fontanamatt

Guest
thanks, so should i reply to the CA in writing saying that i dispute the claim just to buy a little time?
 
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fontanamatt

Guest
what are the chances that i can get the case re-opened?

, i am in the process of applying for low income council . i just want to get as much information as i can before i talk to my attorney so as not to waste his/her time.

basically this guy started the fight and he got the worse end of the deal. then later his insurance company sued. then when i didn't show up the judgement was ordered.

i was never arrested, charged, or anything criminal. that is why i took the civil case so lightly. what would i want to say in my application for to re-open the case. that i have new info that will change the finding?

it just really stinks because they waited so long and that now i make around $1600/month, i think they could take up to a %33 in my state. washington .

thanks again for any advice you may have to offer.
 

JETX

Senior Member
Okay, if I understand your post correctly, you received notice of a lawsuit back around 1994 and ignored the notice. Your 'no show' allowed the plaintiff to get a $40k judgment against you. Correct??

A judgment in Washington state is valid for 10 years and is renewable for an additional 10 years (total 20 years). Needless to say, this judgment is still valid and enforcable and will be for some time.

So, lets look at what they (the judgment creditor) can do to you and what you can exempt from seizure (this applies only to Washington state):

"You cannot go to jail for failing or refusing to pay a judgment (except in rare cases for refusing to pay a child-support judgment the court has found you can afford to pay). However, if you are ordered to appear for an examination and you don't appear, you can be arrested. See the section below called "Supplemental Proceedings." The judgment creditor can collect by "garnishing" your wages or bank account, or by having the sheriff sell your personal property (cars, appliances) or real property (house and land). These collection processes, and the limits placed on them by law, are explained below.

What property can't be taken to pay the judgment?
By law, there are certain kinds of property that generally cannot be taken from you. This property that cannot be taken by a judgment creditor is called "exempt property." (Some of the following discussion does not apply when a judgment is for child support or taxes.) The main exemptions are:

- Welfare, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, most pension and retirement benefits;
- Net wages of $154.50 per week, or 75% of your net wages, whichever is more;
- Clothing;
- Household goods, appliances, furniture, provisions and fuel, up to $2,700 in value;
- Equity in 2 motor vehicles up to an aggregate value of $2,500. "Equity" is the value of a possession, less what is owed on it, and less any debts on which it has been listed as collateral;
- Equity in a home up to $40,000;
- Tools and instruments necessary to carry on a trade up to $5,000 in value;
- Other property not to exceed $1,000, including no more than $100 in cash and no more than $100 in bank accounts.

Until a creditor obtains a court order, none of your property or wages may be taken by garnishment, and none may be sold by the sheriff to pay a creditor. Even after a judgment has been obtained, property that is exempt may not be taken. You may want to review the more detailed packet on "How to Claim Personal Property Exemptions" if the creditor does get a judgment against you.

Wage Garnishment
To garnish your wages the judgment creditor sends a "writ of garnishment" to your employer. Your employer must then file an "Answer" which tells the creditor and the court how much wages you are owed. You are supposed to receive copies of both the Writ of Garnishment and the Answer. Your employer is required to figure out how much of your wages are exempt and to pay you that amount. The employer must hold the rest for the creditor.

The exempt part of your wages is $154.50 per week or 75% of your net wages (gross pay minus taxes, Social Security and other mandatory deductions), whichever is more. For example, if you make less than $154.50 a week net, all of your wages are exempt. If you make $175.00 a week, $154.50 is exempt. If you make $250.00 a week $187.50 is exempt (since $187.50 is 75% of your wages, and that amount is more than $154.50).

Can I be fired because my wages are garnished?
No. It is illegal for an employer to fire you because your wages have been garnished unless your wages from the same employer are garnished for three different judgments during a twelve-month period.

Bank Account Garnishment
Bank account garnishment is similar to wage garnishment. Instead of sending a garnishment writ to your employer, the creditor sends one to your bank. When your bank account is being garnished, some papers must be sent to you. These include a copy of the garnishment writ and an exemption claim form. Funds in a bank account from certain sources are exempt from garnishment. The funds will be exempt, for example, if they are from welfare, Social Security, SSI or most pension plans. Unlike your employer, your bank will not claim your exemptions for you. You must claim them yourself. The exemption claim form is provided for this purpose. It should come with an explanation of what you need to do with it.

Sale of Personal Property
A judgment creditor may obtain a "Writ of Execution" from the court telling the sheriff to take your property and sell it with the proceeds going to the creditor. You may prevent the sheriff from taking your exempt property by claiming your exemptions. You should make a list of all your personal property (household furniture and appliances, cars, tools and equipment) and put a "*" next to items you claim are exempt. At the bottom of the list, write "I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the state of Washington that the foregoing is a list of my household furnishings and appliances (or tools or motor vehicles) and I believe the items I have marked with a '*' are exempt from attachment." If the sheriff comes to take your property, present the list. The sheriff cannot take your property without a further proceeding to determine the value of the items claimed as exempt. For more information about claiming exemptions and forms, you may want to review our publication How to Claim Personal Property Exemptions.

Sale of Real Property
A judgment creditor may attempt to have your real property (land, house, and other buildings) sold by the sheriff. Up to $40,000 of equity in your home is protected under the homestead law from most creditors. Exceptions include a worker who has worked on your home, someone who has provided materials used on your home and a lender trying to foreclose a mortgage on your home because you have not repaid the loan. The homestead law applies to a mobile home as well as a house.

Supplemental Proceedings
When a judgment creditor wants to find out whether you work, where you keep your money, or what property you own, the creditor may get an "Order for Examination of Judgment Debtor." This will require you to appear in court to answer questions. You must comply with the order by appearing in court or a warrant will be issued for your arrest. When you appear in court, your case will be called by the judge. Usually, the judge will ask you to go to a separate room with the creditor's lawyer. The lawyer will then ask you questions about your property. You do not have to answer a question if you think the answer would be an admission of a crime. If you think this might be the case, you should ask the judge for time to talk to a lawyer. If the lawyer is rude or abusive, you should stop the examination and go back and tell the judge."

Your only other possible recourse would be to challenge the judgment itself, but since you have already stated that you were aware of the lawsuit but just didn't show, you have pretty much eliminated the issue most commonly used to challenge judgments (not properly noticed).
 

JETX

Senior Member
Let me try to answer your later posts....

Q1) "thanks, so should i reply to the CA in writing saying that i dispute the claim just to buy a little time?"
A1) This one kind of surprises me. It is uncommon (in my opinion) for a 'collection agent' to get involved in enforcing a judgment. Are you sure that your 'concerned party' isn't the judgment owner??? In any case, the 'validation' issue (and even 'cease and desist' letters) do not apply in this case. They are 'rights' that a debtor has provided by the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).... which does NOT apply in this case.

Q2) "what would i want to say in my application for to re-open the case. that i have new info that will change the finding?"
A2) Nothing. Too much time has lapsed to allow 're-opening' the case. Your only chance to set aside the judgment would have been failure to notice as provided by law..... but since your first posts said that you knew about the suit, that 'excuse' goes out the window.
 
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fontanamatt

Guest
thank you very much for your time and energy on this one!

it now seems to me that retaining an attorney would not help in this case since there is no chance of re-opening the original case.

do you think that it would be a good idea to ask them to reduce the amount owed because it is such a large amount, $60k.

i have heard of people offering a lesser amount to settle but that usually means they have a substantial amount such as offering the CA $5000 or something like that.

if i reduce my hours at work so as to only earn $150/week then they can't touch it right?

then maybe as time passed they would stop attempting to writ of garnishment, since i don't make that much.

i don't know , i am just thinking of any possible thing i can do.

i understand that i am in default and that pretty much am screwed, i just want to make it hard if not impossible for them to collect right???.
 

I AM ALWAYS LIABLE

Senior Member
My response:

Simple solution. Bankruptcy.

Of course, that's assuming that the entire, or a portion of the judgment, is not "punitive damages."

IAAL
 
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fontanamatt

Guest
i thought that judegments of default by a court were not affected by bankruptcy??

i thought bankruptcy only helped with unsecure debt like credit cards and rent to own stuff like that i agreed to pay?
 
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fontanamatt

Guest
does punative mean "pain and suffering" because that is what i was sued for originally.?
 

I AM ALWAYS LIABLE

Senior Member
My response:

Then, you thought wrong. All judgments, whether by trial, or by default, are affected by Bankruptcy. Pain and suffering is otherwise known as "General Damages." Punitive damages is that amount of money awarded by the court to "teach you a lesson", to "punish" you.

Due to the large amount of the judgment, it would do you well to go to the exact courthouse where the case was filed, and see the Civil Filing Clerk. Ask the Clerk to see the file and to have a "Certified Copy" of the judgment made for you. Remember, the judgment amount will be smaller than what is currently being claimed because for all these years, that judgment has been accruing interest at the rate of 10% per year.

You also need to find out if any portion of the judgment is for punitive damages. Then, take the judgment, and all your other debts, to a Bankruptcy attorney, and file immediately.

IAAL
 
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JETX

Senior Member
IAAL, I don't know what the statutory judgment interest rate was at the time of the judgment, but currently Washington state allows 12%. <grin>
:)
 

I AM ALWAYS LIABLE

Senior Member
My response:

Oooops! "My bad" (whatever the hell that phrase means - - I just keep seeing it in responses). I was thinking "California" when I should have been thinking "Washington". Thanks for the correction, but what's difference of a few percentage points between friends?

Anyway, now that our writer has even worse news, it's time to peddle his bicycle to the first BK attorney he can nab.

IAAL
 

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