Q: Judgement is already made and reported. It is not from the courts to appear at a deposition of execution for a credit card. Do I have to appear? I am disabled and on a fixed income with SSI and Veterans pension only. is there a way to put my information in the courts so I am judgement proof? The lawyers made this look like it came from the courts. I always thought that a deposition had to be before a judgement was made not after. (Pittsburgh, PA) A: After a judgment is taken, there are Civil Procedure rules that allow the Plaintiff to conduct discovery to determine if assets exist and where they are located. This is done, so the assets can be executed on, or seized. A deposition is one form of discovery, as are written interrogatories. A Notice of Deposition can be sent from an attorney’s office and does not need to be court ordered. If you don’t go to the deposition, the Plaintiff can get a court order requiring your attendance and may ask for counsel fees for doing so. Apparently, you did not have a lawyer to fight this judgment or you may not be in this situation. I advise consulting with one to see if you have options.
A: After a judgment is taken, there are Civil Procedure rules that allow the Plaintiff to conduct discovery to determine if assets exist and where they are located. This is done, so the assets can be executed on, or seized. A deposition is one form of discovery, as are written interrogatories. A Notice of Deposition can be sent from an attorney’s office and does not need to be court ordered. If you don’t go to the deposition, the Plaintiff can get a court order requiring your attendance and may ask for counsel fees for doing so. Apparently, you did not have a lawyer to fight this judgment or you may not be in this situation. I advise consulting with one to see if you have options.
Q: Can I go to jail because I cannot take off work to go to a civil hearing at a magistrate? I’m being taken to court by a creditor (credit card company)? (White Oak, PA)
A: The short answer is no. Generally, civil court has no jurisdiction to incarcerate people. Only in rare circumstances such as when a person is found in contempt or in family court matters involving failure to pay child support. What will happen is that since you do not appear, and have made no effort to continue the case, a hearing will go forward without you and you will be found guilty in absentia. The creditor will ask for and receive the judgment, any interest owed, plus costs and lawyers fee. You might want to call the creditor and the judge and ask for a continuance.
Q: They already have a judgement. I own nothing. I do have a bank account in me and my husband name. Car is in both names. I do not own it make payments. I have no savings account and our income tax return is in both names. Can they garnish my wages in PA or take my tax return refund? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: As long as everything you own in in both names, you are shielded by the husband and wife entireties doctrine.
Q: What exactly can they do? Wise to attend the magisterial hearing sans defense? It is an unsecured debt. I have no viable defense I’m aware of. The magistrate may have mercy as she knows me. The attorney for Discover is from NY. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Once an award is obtained from the District Justice, it can easily be turned in to a judgment. Once it is a judgment it acts as a lien on all real estate you own. It is possible that the company will go further and execute on personal property (cars, namely) or real estate (your home). Often there are defenses to these credit card law suits. I would review the paperwork with an attorney. The attorney from New York will likely have local counsel represent the company.
Q: My mother lives on $1100 per month social security and has 5-6 loans ranging from $300 to $1000, some collateral and others payday. I paid off her loans two years ago and she has just redone the loans again. She had given me control of her checking account, but she opened a checking account and started taking out the loans again. (Neville Twp., PA)
A: As long as she is competent, she can do as she pleases. If she owns real estate or a motor vehicle, they can be subject to a lien or seizure if she is sued successfully and a judgment is obtained. If she owns no such property, and she takes a judgment, nothing can really happen to her except bad credit and phone harassment from creditors. Of course, you want to make sure she is not borrowing from thugs who may break her legs if she doesn’t ante up. If these loans are a result of some sort of mental infirmity or incompetence, and she becomes a danger to herself, you may want to speak with a lawyer about becoming her guardian.
Q: I have a judgement against me, I did not go to the hearing over a year ago and the judgement went through. Now I am receiving papers from a law firm, Interrogatories for Discovery of Assets in Aid of Execution. Is there anything I can do to appeal or stop this?
My ex-husband bought items on one of my cc cards. We divorced, and I was left with a hefty amount due on the credit card. So, that is why I did not pay it in the first place. But now I’m here, and shame on me. Thanks. (Shaler Twp., PA)
A: Yes, if you have allowed a judgment to be entered, you are way late to appeal. There is a procedure to get back to court which involves filing a Petition to Open Default Judgment. I am not sure if the facts in your case would support this legal procedure, which will involve hiring a lawyer and incurring legal fees. If the judgment is something you can pay, you may want to work out a settlement agreement. Consult with a lawyer.
Q: My uncle was here on visitor’s visa from India couple of years ago. He had a hospital ER visit which lead to 20k in medical bills. He had some sort of traveler’s insurance at the time of his treatment. He went back assuming the insurance would take care of the bills. However, insurance denied everything stating it was due to a pre-existing condition. I recently have received a court summons on his name mailed to my address. Since the defendant is not staying in US anymore and they cannot afford paying that huge amount, what can be done? Would I have any impact on all this? (Gibsonia, PA)
A: If you were not named in the suit, but it was just mailed to your address, you should have nothing to worry about. I have seen creditors send court papers such as complaints to several last known addresses of clients. This way they can claim they served the defendant and try to obtain a default judgment. It was probably the address he listed when in the hospital here. My suggestion is to mail the creditor a letter, both regular and certified return receipt mail. In the letter, tell them that your uncle does not live nor has ever resided at your address and to cease further contact at your address. Saving a copy of this document may help your uncle in the future if the creditor should obtain a default judgment. As far as your uncle is concerned, it is highly doubtful that they will serve him with a complaint in India. If he travels back to the U.S. they could personally serve him with the complaint, but that is very unlikely.
Q: I have a judgement against someone and a lien on their house from 10/30/2014. The title company just called me for a payoff. I need to know the per diem increase for the amount to complete it. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Judgments in PA bear interest at a rate of 6% per year. You might also want to check if your judgment included costs and/or attorney fees.
Q: There is a water lien on an inherited property from an old disputed water bill. We are happy to give the county this property as it is barely worth the lien. There are other assets in the portfolio however. Can they come after anything else?
A: It depends if you are sued in rem or in persona or both. Some real estate taxing entities and municipal service vendors, only seek to reclaim the real estate, which is in rem. If the proceeds gathered from the sale of the real estate, do not satisfy the claim, sometimes a “deficiency” claim is pursued against the persons who are record owners or heirs of record owners. This is called in personam. You can ask the water company how they handle this or what other options you may have. You can also consult with a local attorney who may have knowledge of the practices of your local tax collections services.
Q: I won a judgement in local court but the defendant has not paid. What can I do next to recieve payment? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: In Pennsylvania, you can ask the magistrate’s office for forms to complete, so you can “execute” the judgment on the defendant’s property. The constable will then proceed to the defendant’s home and levy his or her property for sale. The defendant will then have to file objections to the levy for property that happens to be exempt from a judgment. This will cost you money and time. I would review it with a lawyer first to determine if this person has personal or real property that will make going through all of your effort worthwhile.