Thursday, March 4, 2010

What happens if you ignore a lawsuit? UPDATE

pittsburgh, pa, personal injury, enforcing judgments, default judgment

This cashiers check showed up in my office today. This was the second installment of money related to the default judgment saga I previously posted about here.  The first was a mangy wad of $9,000.00.  We held a sheriff sale and that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

Here are the basic steps I took per the law in Pittsburgh, PA, to obtain and enforce this judgment against an unresponsive Defendant:

1.  File a complaint

2.  If service is obtained and no response is ever filed, have a default judgment entered
     -  Note:  The problem with default judgments is that it often lets any applicable insurance policy off the hook due to coverage exclusions related to lack of defense.  I can explain this further if anyone is interested.

3.  Conduct a hearing to assess damages

4.  Research (and hope) that the defendant has assets that can be levied against
    -  Often times you will find that the defendant a) does not have two pennies to rub together b) has put all of his assets in someone/thing else's name and/or c) has other liens already on the assets that trump your judgment.

5.  In the event the defendant has sufficient assets, file a writ of execution.  This entails a sheriff serving the defendant with notice that unless he complies with the judgment his assets will be levied upon via sheriff sale.  This is usually the step when the defendant decides to start talking settlement.

6.  If the defendant continues to be obstinate then you carry out the sheriff's sale.

As a result of these steps, I was fortunate to obtain a sizable amount of money for my client.  Though I hate to take such drastic measures I am happy that my client got her just reward.

If you ever find yourself in the position (and I hope you never do) of trying to collect on a judgment, just know that the process is a combination of persistence, science and luck. Share this post :
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