When monetary damages are awarded in a lawsuit, the plaintiff gets a “judgment.” The next step is actually collecting the money – which is not always easy – and is known as enforcing the judgment – or judgment enforcement.
As many creditors have discovered, obtaining a judgment against a delinquent debtor rarely results in the prompt receipt of payment of the debt. Rather, securing a judgment is only the first in what will likely be many steps in collecting a debt that is overdue.
At The Berkovitch & Bouskila PLLC, we assist creditors in identifying and locating a debtor’s assets in New York by using the latest debt collection software and other technology. We also work with enforcement officials, such as City Marshals and County Sheriffs, to execute upon income executions, otherwise known as wage garnishments, if a debtor works in New York State, or is employed by a New York State company.
Contact our experienced judgment enforcement attorneys today at Berkovitch & Bouskila PLLC email@example.com or 212-729-1477 in York City and Rockland County to arrange a free, confidential consultation.
Situation When Courts Award Monetary Judgments
Lawsuits are often used to recover monies and make a plaintiff whole.
Perhaps a business lost millions of dollars in a deal gone wrong. Or an entrepreneur has a falling out with her business partners. Or someone is injured in a serious car crash or act of terror.
Courts can help in these kinds of cases by awarding monetary damages. Courts award monetary judgments in a variety of situations, including jury verdict, default judgment, affirmative summary judgment, restitution, and sanctions.
What Potential Judgment Enforcement Laws Court Provides?
New York has a robust set of asset investigation and judgment enforcement laws. We can send subpoenas, take depositions, garnish wages, freeze bank accounts, and more.
And we can send a sheriff out to seize property. New York state law is also applied to collect on judgments arising in federal cases.
- Seizing Property
Under the CPLR § 5201(b), we can seize not only money, but property, stock, or almost anything else that could be sold to satisfy the judgment. It clearly states that: “A money judgment may be enforced against any property which could be assigned or transferred…”
- Seizing House
CPLR § 5206 provides homestead exemption. We can generally seek to seize a debtor’s house to pay for a judgment. And it’s a fair prediction that the debtor will finally pay up before his home goes to auction. New York has a very limited homestead protection.
Specifically, the homestead exemption is limited to homes with $170,825 in equity in New York City and the nearby counties; $142,350 in the Albany area; and $84,400 in the rest of the state. And, as one might imagine, it’s not hard to find a home in New York City with more than $150,000 in value.
- Restraining Notice
New York has a very powerful restraining notice statute CPLR § 5222, which is used to freeze property held by the debtor or third parties. Once served with a restraining order, the debtor “is forbidden to make or suffer any sale, assignment, transfer or interference with any property in which he or she has an interest…..” The real power of the restraining order comes in serving third parties.
We can restrain bank accounts, brokerage accounts, accounts receivable, and rents. These are all assets owned by the debtor that should be redirected and used to pay you, the judgment creditor.
Under CPLR § 5223; CPLR 5224 statutes, we can take a broad range of discovery to investigate and trace assets. We can send a subpoena for books and records; demand sworn answers to interrogatories; and take depositions.
We are not required to notify the judgment debtor that we’re taking such discovery.
- Execute on the Debtor’s Personal Property
CPLR §§ 5232, 5233: We can execute on the debtor’s personal property held by another.
For example, in one case, we demanded the turnover of the debtor’s interest in a closely-held LLC so that the shares could be sold to satisfy the debt: “The interest of the judgment debtor in personal property obtained by a sheriff pursuant to execution or order … shall be sold by the sheriff at public auction….”
- Payment of Restitution Under Criminal Laws
Under Penal Law § 60.27, a court in NY can order the defendant to pay restitution to the victims. A victim can then enforce the restitution order like any other judgment against a debtor. Similarly, under federal criminal law, a court can order restitution to the victims.
A victim can then request that the restitution order be converted into a monetary judgment.
See a Lawyer!
Our firm has particular expertise in judgment enforcement with an arsenal of other tools that ensure that if judgment debtor has the means to pay, we can almost always find a way to enforce the judgment. We regularly enforce judgments obtained for our clients by other law firms and paralegals.
We have built on that ground-breaking court ruling to develop a legal process for efficiently obtaining court orders against third parties with knowledge of hidden assets and income sources to disclose them.
This enables us to find enforcement avenues that the best asset-tracing services are blocked from finding because of privacy legislation.
Based in York City and Rockland County, we work with individuals, businesses, and attorneys throughout the country as they seek to execute on the assets of debtors who live, work, or own assets in New York State.
To schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you in your efforts to enforce or obtain a judgment, click here or call us at 212-729-1477 or contact us online.