Someone I have a personal gripe with filed an IIED lawsuit against me in California state court, and I don't have the money to hire an attorney to defend myself. If I lose by default--which I guess will certainly happen since I'm ignoring it--and on the off chance that the plaintiff wins a monetary judgment against me, how can they collect if I never contact them and never tell them which bank I use? I rent and don't own a car, so other than my bank account I have no assets the plaintiff could come after.
Basically, how would the plaintiff find out where I have my savings if I never default and ignore them?
And if they know where I live, does a judgment give them the right to just barge into my apartment and take whatever's in there to sell?
If your adversary takes the default, I promise they will be able to locate your employment and bank with little to no effort. Even if you don't appear in the multiple databases which are available to attorneys and collection agencies, you can be forced to appear for a judgment debtor examination, under oath, and provide the location of all of your accounts. Answer the lawsuit, no matter what, or negotiate a solution with your adversary now.
In most states, a judgment creditor can compel you to disclose your assets, by way of written questions called interrogatories, requests for production of bank statements, taking your deposition, or subpoenaing third parties.
Judgment creditors can not simply come to your residence to obtain your possession. Instead, they have to have the sheriff levy on the assets.
Judgment creditors may conduct "debtor examinations" which judgment debtors must legally comply with. This is how most judgment creditors discover bank accounts and other assets owned by judgment debtors. Judgment creditors might also hire outside investigators to find your assets; however, this is expensive and is typically reserved for significant judgments. Judgment creditors never have the right to "take" property - they must obtain a court order permitting them to do so. Moreover, this is handled by the Sheriff, not the judgment creditor personally. If you have personal property that is of any significant value, that is not otherwise exempt from judgment collection or enforcement, the judgment creditor may discover it in an examination and seek an order from the court authorizing the sheriff to take and force a sale of it. If you do end up purchasing a car or expensive jewelry of some sort, do not take it with you to a debtors examination; it is possible that the judgment creditor will seek and obtain a "turnover order", ordering you to turn the property over to the judgment creditor right then and there.
I agree with the others and would like to add that you should, at the very least, represent yourself in this suit by filing an answer to the complaint or trying to negotiate the the plaintiff as has been advised above. By ignoring the suit, you give way too much power to the plaintiff. They still need to prove their case to the satisfaction of the judge and law, but if you don't participate, the court may often just take the plaintiff's word as fact. You owe it to yourself to at least consult with an attorney to get some ideas about how to handle your case. If you think this "personal gripe" is bad now, just wait until they obtain a judgment against you! A judgment creditor can make your life VERY difficult.
While one of the things for which lawyers look in determining whether to take on a case or not is how easy collection of "winnings" will be. That said, many of us will take a case against an individual and then have to do some more work than expected to actually collect. We get really good at this post suit activity. We know how to find assets, how to place liens on things, how to garnish wages, file abstracts, etc. Thus, someone who decides to just take a default because they feel that a plaintiff will be too lazy or stupid to collect may be sadly mistaken.
Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker
Fransen & Molinaro, LLP
980 Montecito Drive, Suite 206
Corona, CA 92879
www.fransenandmolinaro.com / www.888MDJDLAW.com
"When you need a lawyer, call the Doctor... Call Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D... Call (888)MDJDLAW."
* This post and all others I make on Internet are for informational purposes only. None of the information or materials I post are legal advice. Nothing I post as comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. While I try to be accurate, I do not guarantee accuracy.
** Fransen & Molinaro, LLP practices in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and real estate law.
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