Oct 13, 2021

Collecting on Judgements, Russell O’Brien, Conrad & Scherer

My name is Russell O’Brien. I’m a partner at Conrad and Scherer. I’m also the firm’s administrative partner. I specialize in complex commercial litigation, maritime law. And I also do some work in post judgment collection proceedings. People often ask once they get a judgement or verdict in their favor, what to do next. And it’s really important to know how to take that piece of paper and how to get paid. And that’s part of what we do here at Conrad and Scherer.

One of the first things you need to do is identify for the debtor, the person you received your judgment against, what assets he has to collect upon. And there could be personal property, real property, and bank accounts, wages you can garnish. There’s a number of ways to make sure that you get paid for the judgment you just received. At Conrad and Scherer, not only do we work with you in your case proper, to get your case to judgement or verdict, but then afterwards, we work with you to help you actually collect and get paid.

In Florida it’s very favorable to judgement debtors. There are a number of exempt assets, meaning assets that are not collectible by judgement creditors. Those are things such as your homestead property. Homestead meaning the house that you reside in. In Florida public policy does not allow people to take away their homes to collect upon a judgment. Other assets that are potentially exempt are things like retirement accounts. If the judgement debtor is the head of their household, a certain amount of that income is exempt. But there are other ways to collect. So if the judgement debtor not only has homestead, but maybe has a second home, or a condo, those types of things we can collect against.

Here at Conrad and Scherer, we identify all the assets, determine whether those assets are exempt or not. And then come up with a collection plan for you. There’s a number of ways in which we can look to find the assets of the judgment creditor, it’s called post judgement discovery proceedings. And so similar in your case where you might have conducted discovery, as to the merits of your claim.

At the end of the case, we conduct discovery to see what assets the judgment debtor has. And there are a number of procedures at the end of the case to then seek out those assets. Including clawing back any fraudulent transfers, any attempts by the judgement debtor to remove property because he knows he may be subject to a judgement. And all of those post judgment proceedings, that’s what we do here at Conrad and Scherer.

Living in Florida, there are a lot of people who have their homestead or reside here for tax purposes, but they may do business in other parts of the country. So a lot of the post judgement collection work that we get are people who have obtained judgements in let’s say, New York or the Northeast or any other part of the United States. But the judgement debtor really has a lot of their assets here in Florida. And so if you are in that situation, one of the things that the firm can help you with is we can domesticate your judgement that was obtained in any other state in the United States, here in Florida, and then take that judgment to pursue any assets of the judgement debtor.

So I’ll give you an example. I represent a bank in New York, and they have a judgement debtor here in Florida. We domesticated the judgement. One of the first things we did is discover a native execution. We served document request, scheduled the deposition of the judgement debtor and really walked through every single asset that person had here in Florida, which we may be able to collect upon in order to satisfy that judgment.

We identified several bank accounts in which the judgement debtor had funds, assets. We garnish those accounts. We identified a number of companies that, that judgement debtor had a membership interest in and we sought to attach those membership interests, which ultimately can be used to be sold to satisfy the judgement. We looked to see whether there was any personal property. This was a rather wealthy judgement debtor, so they had expensive artwork and jewelry they were required to disclose. You know, anything from a car, to a boat, to artwork, to even clothing, if it’s expensive enough, can be used to satisfy you