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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    8

    Default Collecting on a Small Claims Judgement

    My question involves collection proceedings in the State of: Missouri

    I have a small claims judgement. The appeals period has expired. He has twice promised to pay the judgement. The payment date of the first promise arrived and he said the funding he was expecting hsd "fallen through". He stated that he should have funds to pay me by the end of June.

    Now I'd like to research what my options are if he doesn't follow through on his second promise to pay. The court has paperwork that I can use to garnish his wages and bank accounts. But that requires his SSN. I spoke with a private investigator who promised that he could get me the judgement debtor's SSN and bank account info but his fee to do so would be $275.

    My judgement is for $1185. The garnishment form includes a space to write in post judgement expenses -- could I list the PI's fee there and include that in what I collect?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    16,869

    Default Re: Collecting on a Small Claims Judgement

    Quote Quoting doni49
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    The garnishment form includes a space to write in post judgement expenses -- could I list the PI's fee there and include that in what I collect?
    Yes.

    But I'm not so sure that you need the SSN for wage garnishment, assuming you know who his employer is.

    Might cost you less up front to have him summoned for a debtors examination under oath where you can elicit the information.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    2,878

    Default Re: Collecting on a Small Claims Judgement

    Read through this before you start paying any PIs.

    http://www.mobar.org/uploadedFiles/H...%20Collect.pdf

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,534

    Default Re: Collecting on a Small Claims Judgement

    As to including the cost of obtaining a social security number:

    if the investigator can legally obtain the info you can probably include the cost. Given there are limited reasons one can legally obtain a SS number for, if it doesn’t fall within a legal means, not only will you not be able to collect on that cost, you’re likely to get an earful from the judge about using unlawful tactics to obtain the info.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Collecting on a Small Claims Judgement

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    Yes. (?)

    But I'm not so sure that you need the SSN for wage garnishment, assuming you know who his employer is.

    Might cost you less up front to have him summoned for a debtors examination under oath where you can elicit the information.
    You seem most self-assured in responding affirmatively.

    So perhaps you could provided some competent legal authority that would allow the judgment creditor to add as costs to the judgment fees charged by a PI in gathering data concerning the judgment debtor.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    2,878

    Default Re: Collecting on a Small Claims Judgement

    There is nothing special about having the SSN on the order. If an employer receives a garnishment order that says John Smith is the debtor the only reason not having the SSN might have an effect is if two John Smiths worked there.

    Your bigger problem will be that he owns the business.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    8

    Default Re: Collecting on a Small Claims Judgement

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    Yes.

    But I'm not so sure that you need the SSN for wage garnishment, assuming you know who his employer is.

    Might cost you less up front to have him summoned for a debtors examination under oath where you can elicit the information.
    I asked the garnishment clerk about not listing the SSN. He said that they CAN process it without the SSN but if it's not listed, the employer has the option to NOT RESPOND. The business (employer) -- an LLC -- is owned by my judgement debtor. I believe that if permitted, he would have his payroll staff just ignore the garnishment order. So I'd prefer to list the SSN.

    In addition, I've read somewhere (I don't remember where) that the MO Supreme Court has ruled that a judgement debtor can not be forced to give up his banking info or SSN -- something about doing so would infringe on his 5th Amendment right.

    I just found the location -- I've actually read the file that was posted above. Page 16 says the following:

    Most states have a procedure for the creditor to
    question the judgment debtor under oath to find out about his/her assets. This procedure
    in Missouri is not effective. By state statute, judgment debtors are allowed to assert their
    Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions which might incriminate them. This
    grew out of case law in which the Internal Revenue Service was investigating a judgment
    debtor possibly in anticipation of tax imposition and fraud prosecution. Any judgment debtor who has an attorney will be well advised to state only his/her name and assert this
    privilege in response to all questions about assets, income and bank accounts. In some
    areas, the Judges will educate the judgment debtors of this right if it is a pro se debtor
    who is appearing. In few counties will a Judge enter a body attachment if the debtor does
    not even appear for this hearing. Nevertheless, IF the debtor appears and is willing to
    answer questions, you may find out about real or personal property, insurance policies
    with any cash value, stocks, bonds, savings or checking accounts, IRA accounts and other
    attachable property.

    Quote Quoting PayrolGuy
    View Post
    There is nothing special about having the SSN on the order. If an employer receives a garnishment order that says John Smith is the debtor the only reason not having the SSN might have an effect is if two John Smiths worked there.

    Your bigger problem will be that he owns the business.
    I'm thinking that if the business fails to comply, I can then obtain a judgement against the business and go after the business assets as well.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    1,300

    Default Re: Collecting on a Small Claims Judgement

    Quote Quoting doni49
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    could I list the PI's fee there and include that in what I collect?
    You can list anything you like, but you'll have to review the applicable Missouri laws to see if investigation costs are a recoverable post-judgment expense. While I don't know Missouri law on the issue, I'm not aware of any jurisdiction in which such costs are recoverable.

    Garnishing wages at a self-owned LLC is almost certain to be futile. I suggest you either hire an investigator to locate a bank account or do a debtor exam or check to see if Missouri law provides for post-judgment interrogatories. There's no way that bank account info isn't discoverable.

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