You’ve come to us for help collecting an outstanding debt. We’ve filed a lawsuit on your behalf and received a judgment in favor of you being paid.
Now what? How is the judgment enforced?
Unfortunately, there is still a way to go before you see any money. Once a judgment is issued, it becomes a matter of public record. It is filed and indexed with the court clerk. The business owing you money can then satisfy the judgment by paying the amount owed, which will trigger a satisfaction of judgment, resolving the issue.
If the debtor does not pay, however, then it is time to take the next step: Judgment Enforcement.
After the judgment is entered the debtor has a limited opportunity to file an appeal. Once that time passes, we immediately request issuance of an Execution. The execution is the piece of paper that allows a creditor to seize and sell the debtor’ property. If the debtor has real estate then you can do two things: (1) Instruct the deputy sheriff to levy upon the property and then suspend the sale of the property; and (2) instruct the deputy sheriff to levy and immediately sell the property. The decision rests on the amount of the debtor’s equity in the property, how title to the property is held, i.e. tenants by the entirety, joint tenants or tenants in common, and the amount of the debt. If you chose to use the execution to levy and suspend you will have a lie which the debtor will have to deal with when they sell or refinance the property. However, although a judgment is good for 20 years, a levy is good only for 6, but if proper documentation is filed at the Registry of Deeds, the six year period begins al over again.
Other possibilities include:
- Work out payment schedule with the company.
- Seizure and sale of the company’s assets.
- Filing for post judgment security against the company’s bank.
- Conducting post judgment discovery to learn whether a case can be made to pierce the corporate veil and to personally hold liable the owners or those who controlled the business.
- Discovering and exposing fraudulent transfer of assets.
- Post-judgment litigation – bringing suit on the existing judgment, which opens up the opportunity to bring in new parties and new theories about getting you paid.
In Massachusetts, no inquiry into a debtor’s assets can be made before obtaining a judgment. Once the judgment is granted, post-judgment depositions can be conducted. Often these depositions uncover fraudulent transfers of assets made to avoid paying a judgment.
Collecting on judgments can be a long haul. It is a multi-million dollar business and it’s challenging. We are good at it and we tailor our approach and our actions to each individual situation.
Whether you have a new case or have a judgment collecting only dust, give us a call today so that we can discuss the details of your case and how we can help.