Negotiating a Civil Judgment

Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by timjcathom, Jul 1, 2001.

  1. timjcathom

    timjcathom Well-Known Member

    I have been reading this board for some time. Thanks to the information I have gained from all the posts that I have read, I have made great strides in improving the accuracy of my credit reports. I have one particular problem that has to be dealt with directly. I have a default civil judgment that is appearing on my public record. The judgment is for a business I once owned in Washington State. My Ex was a partner in my business as well. Shortly after our divorce, I closed the business down. Although the building was released the following month, it was for a lesser monthly rate. My Ex wife and I were sued for the difference for the term of the lease. The judgment is for approximately $9,061. Upon closing the business, I returned to Texas. While in Texas, the case was filed. Although the judgment was filed in January of 2000, I only recently found out about it. My Ex has recently filed for bankruptcy, so the debt is my responsibility. I am going to do all that I can to avoid following suit.

    I recently spoke the holder of the judgment, and he said that he would settle for 75% of the debt, so I think that he is receptive to negotiation. The problem is that I have no assets to sell to pay this judgment. I can swing a payment play, but to pay 75% it will take me over 5 years to pay it off. At this point I could either pay the debt out over the next 5 years, or I could file chapter 7 and be done with it and suffer the consequences for the next 10 years.

    If anyone could give me some direction for here, it would be greatly appreciated.
  2. bbauer

    bbauer Banned

    I would suggest that you go to the court house and check the records there on the court proceedings.

    You would be looking to see if the service of summons was correct in your state. Was a valid service of summons served upon you? You will have to either see an attorney to find out what the laws say in your state or check out the statute in your state dealing with that subject.

    If you were not properly served, then I would again speak to an attorney and see if you might not get the judgement overturned on that basis.

    Why don't you check that out first and then let us know what comes of that. There are a ton of reasons why your judgment might be invalid, but let's take them one at a time so you don't become too confused.

    Once you tell us how that comes out, then maybe we can go from there looking for other kinds of reasons that you may be able to go get it overturned.

    If you would like to chat more about it privately, you can email me.
  3. timjcathom

    timjcathom Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input, but getting the judgment set aside is not that pratical. unfortunatly, having a judgment vacated is not a sure thing. I live 2000 miles away, and if I could get it vacated chances are that the process would begin again. If I negotiate a settlement with the terms of having the judgment set aside, it would assure that I will never have to deal with this again. I just need some help negotiating a settlement.
  4. bbauer

    bbauer Banned

    Your 2000 miles does work as a definite handicap.

    Just for informational purposes, once the judgment is overturned because of reverseable errors, it can never be reopened by the creditor. He lost and that's the end of the road for him.

    Be that as it may, your 2000 miles does work as a definite handicap which in your mind overrides the gain to be had by traveling them a few times to win.

    I'd simply try to negotiate a settlement for the best price you can in return for a non-rated account if nothing better can be had from the creditor. Or you can demand the he "stand still" to all inquiries from any credit reporting agency. Then if you can get a "stand still" agreement all you have to do is to demand verification from the credit bureau and if it comes back verified, you know that either the creditor verified behind your back or the CRA is lying.
    If the creditor fails to "stand still" he has broken a written agreement with you and you can sue and win.

    Same thing if it's the credit bureau lying. You can sue too.

    But just get everything in writing.
  5. timjcathom

    timjcathom Well-Known Member

    But would the CRA verify the judgment with the creditor, or would they just verify the public record?
  6. bbauer

    bbauer Banned

    If worst comes to worst, you can just about always "spam" the judgment off the credit bureau records and get the job done.

    If they check with the creditor which isn't all that likely because they go to the public record most of the time, then the creditor should abide by the terms of whatever agreement you had with them in writing.
  7. breeze

    breeze Well-Known Member

    They verify the public record.

    You may be able to get the judgment vacated because of improper service. An attorney there (the old city) can do it for you, it cost me about $400. I am in VA.

    If you are actually liable for the difference in the rents (do you still have the contract?) You could negotiate paying the debt separately, to assure that he does not try to get another judgment against you if this one is vacated.

  8. bbauer

    bbauer Banned

    He has not stated when his date of last activity was, so there is the additional possibility that by the time he gets the thing vacated, the SOL could be out on the guy and he would then have that as an additional defense in the event that the landlord tried to get a new judgment.
  9. river

    river Well-Known Member

    Either pay it or best to let it sit and age.It's only 1&1/2 years old. Looks as though the guy that filed it ,is being receptive, when coming to payment,which is good,but not good when trying to get it deleted because he seems to be staying on top of it. Wouldn't file Bk over one judgement. Not worth it.
  10. breeze

    breeze Well-Known Member

    Aging, by itself, does not help an unpaid judgment like it does other debts. This will stay on his reports for the duration of the SOL on judgments in WA state - that's 10 yrs from the date of the judgment. And if WA is like most states, the judgment can be renewed.

  11. river

    river Well-Known Member

    I guess thing to do is pay it and then keep disputing it til it is removed. When I disputed mine , it was a paid judgement.
  12. tltrader

    tltrader Active Member

    I'd make it clear that you will BK if you can't work something out. Then go back and offer something more workable than 75%. I think you have some more negotiating to do.
  13. Crdt Dfnse

    Crdt Dfnse Well-Known Member

    I agree with other posters, filing BK over this issue isnâ??t in your best interests; a chapter-7 will set you back 10 years, and damage your reports even more (so donâ??t even threaten BK). Besides, the judgment creditor canâ??t garnish your wages (per Texas CONST. Article XVI § 28) and heâ??s limited in effectuating in other ways too (Texas is a monster when it comes to collecting). So the only real concern for one in your situation (whom lives in Texas) would normally be, having the hit removed from CBRs. But here are some details to be aware ofâ?¦

    First off the credit reporting period for a judgment in Washington State is up to 10 years, from date of decree, pursuant to FCRA. This means the item wouldnâ??t normally fall off according to the 7-year rule, but could remain until otherwise paid or expired.

    Secondly, the judgment creditor can do little to compel your performance (again because youâ??re in Texas). He canâ??t order a judgment-debtor hearing, cannot seize assets in Texas (Washington isnâ??t a sister state), and is limited by other means also (too detailed to list).

    All this comes down to say, the judgment creditor has no leverage other than the credit report hit. So were you to declare BK, youâ??d essentially be doing it for nothing â?? because the judgment has no teeth! Nonetheless if the other party is willing to negotiate a settlement, offer 30 to 40%; a credit redress after pay-off; and non-disclosure of your terms. If the guy refuses explain his limitations, using them as fulcrums to leverage your optimum deal.

    From a collections standpointâ?¦ 30% is a reasonable offer considering your location. [;-)
  14. timjcathom

    timjcathom Well-Known Member

    Thank you to all that responded to my post. I intend to continue to negotiate the debt with him. I also have contacted an attorney there in Washington who would be more then happy to assist me in having the judgment vacated. I just want to avoid the creditor refiling the suit.

    Again, thanks for your responses. They have been most helpful.
  15. timjcathom

    timjcathom Well-Known Member

    I mean re-filing the suit

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