Andrew L. Quiat (“Andy”)

How Difficult Is It To Locate A Debtor And Obtain A Judgment?

Usually, it is not too difficult to locate a debtor. We have a variety of tools we can use. We start with what you know and what you can tell us, and then we have access to federally regulated databases with certain levels of information. We must certify, every time we go into those databases, the purposes for which we are using them. One of the purposes is to prevent fraud. Another is involvement in a civil or arbitral proceeding. These regulated databases often help us greatly in locating people, by obtaining a beginning level of asset history search. It is not always accurate, yet usually indicates certain assets, associates, relatives, family members, or work locations going back a number of years. In this way, the Internet has made our work much easier.

The internet also affords opportunities for the really skilled fraudster to put up false information to further mislead or misdirect people in general. We complement that work by going to the Secretary of State web sites and other public online information, including information that a debtor will self-publish. For example, this could include Better Business Bureau listings, or Dun & Bradstreet listings. They reflect what the debtor puts out on his or her or its own to the public, in order to sell the story and create the picture they want you and us to see and perceive. The difficulty in obtaining a judgment depends on several factors. I know that’s not particularly helpful, but you’ll understand. Let me first state that it is my preference that when you come to me, that you already have your judgment. That is where I most particularly enjoy working. I will get involved in helping someone obtain his or her judgment, but it is an entirely different enterprise if you come to me with your judgment in hand. From the day you start to the day you get your judgment, it can vary from a couple of months to several years. It just depends on how hard the debtor wants to fight you, and how complex your case may be. Is it just one person who got the money from you, and you are after that one person, or do you have to uncover a complex asset structure that is inter-related? I’m dealing with one case right now where someone who got a subpoena from us pointed out that we listed 50 different entities upon which we want books and records, if they have them. That is a different level of complexity, requiring an understanding of all the moving parts. A very different situation presents when we check out someone who does not have all those entities to confuse, obfuscate, and cloud the issue to divert your attention.

Everyone in a courtroom or a lawsuit is entitled to certain discovery, and certain protections. In general, the judges much prefer to have matters resolved on the merits rather than by default. However, if someone has properly served a complaint and they ignore it, you can get a default judgment, and that usually happens very quickly. It’s a different quality or timbre of judgment than one that is fully litigated on its merits, but it is just as enforceable subject to certain limitations in some states’ version of the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. It does not have quite the same enforceability in one or two states as a judgment that is fully litigated, where you have to go through different procedural hoops to secure the proper enforcement of your judgment.

Overall, there are innumerable variations to the question of how long it takes to receive a judgment, and it really becomes fact specific on the particular circumstances of your case, your situation, the jurisdiction or state where you are located, and whether we are talking about a federal suit or a state suit.

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about legal matters. The information is not legal advice, and should not be treated as such. Quiat Legal makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information on this website.

For more information on Locating Debtors & Obtaining Judgments, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (720) 662-7192 today.

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