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What are my options for reimbursement after winning in Small Claims Court ($2,679) when the defendant does not respond?

West Sacramento, CA |

My son and a friend trashed a vacant house and restitution was ordered. I ended up paying the vast majority of it since the other parties have not been forthcoming, despite 6 letters from me. I did this to give my son an opportunity to seal his juvenile records - he is now 18. One-half of the restitution was ordered for the other kid's parents. I assume that the other half would be split between me and my ex-wife. What are my current options to get the debt collected if they continue to ignore me: a letter campaign starting with the Better Business Bureau (he has his own physical therapy business), organizations they are affiliated with? Any way to affect their credit? Get a lien? More court action? A collection agency? Thanks for the help.

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Attorney answers 2

Best Answer

If you won a judgment in small claims, then you would need to take action to enforce it. There are forms available on line for wage garnishment, judgment debtors exams, etc. Just check out the different forms available for use in small claims actions.


Were you and the other parents jointly and severally liable for the restitution, or were you each ordered to pay one half? You are liable only for the restitution you were ordered to pay. If you were ordered to pay one-half, you cannot recover from them because you paid their half as well. On the other hand, if you were jointly and severally liable, you may take them to small claims court.

I understand you paid the debt for which your son was liable. But you may recover contribution only for the debt for which you and the other parents were jointly and severally liable. Your son and his friend had other means of satisfying the debt.

By no means should you notify the Better Business Bureau. For one thing, this debt has nothing to do with his business. I don't know if a collection agency would act. Small claims court, which you mention in your post, is the best bet.