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Repo 15 years ago... Wage Garnishment now!?!?

Discussion in 'Other Debt, Collection, Garnishment' started by LadyMuck, Dec 31, 2019.

  1. LadyMuck

    LadyMuck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My truck was repo'd in 2002. The debt fell off my credit I believe 10 years after in 2014. Now MacDowell & Associates are trying to garnish my wages for $30,000. Is this legal? How can I stop this? I didn't get any notification to show up to court to fight this...nothing! Please help!
     
  2. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    In order to attach your wages the creditor needs to have a court judgment against you. If your employer has received a garnishment order, get a copy of all the garnishment paperwork and there should be reference there to the court judgment that was obtained. Or contact the attorneys for the creditor that you mentioned and ask for a copy of the judgment. Either way, once you have that information go to the court where the judgment was entered and get a copy of the entire file for the court case. You'll need that information to see if there is anything you can do now to attack the judgment.
     
  3. LadyMuck

    LadyMuck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I received a copy of the judgment from my employers payroll company today. This is the first thing I have received. Isn't there a "time-barred" limit in California? I plan on going to the courthouse tomorrow morning. Its the Superior Court of Orange. What can I do to "attack the judgment" at this point going forward? Please and thank you for your help!
     
  4. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    There is a statute of limitations (SOL) that applies to suing on the debt. The way it works is that the creditor must file the court complaint no later than the time set by the SOL. If the lawsuit is filed late, that then gives you a defense to the claim and you can move to have the case dismissed based on the SOL. In other words, the SOL doesn't prevent the creditor suing you. What it does is hand you a defense to use to get the case dismissed. But if you are served and don't defend the case and file the motion to dismiss, the creditor will still get a default judgment.

    The first issue you want to look at when you get the file is to see the documents related to how service of process was done. If the service was done incorrectly that would open the door for you to move to vacate the judgment. See the California Courts page on vacating a default judgment. This assumes the judgment was obtained in California. If it was obtained in another state you'd need to look at the information for vacating judgments in that other state. If you can vacate the judgment, the creditor will have to start the lawsuit again, which will then give you the chance to raise any defenses you have, including the SOL.
     
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  5. LadyMuck

    LadyMuck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I found the case summary online... the case was initiated in 2004, then a request for dismissal without prejudice was filed 3 months later. The case was disposed with disposition of default judgment a month later. Then the application to renew the judgment started in 2014 and again in 2019.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    So go to the court and get the copies of the documents in the file. You want to see what efforts were made to serve you and how the creditor claimed service was done. That summary does not tell you that.

    What the summary does show, though, is that the original lawsuit was filed in August 2004. You said the car was repossessed in 2002. As pretty much every car financing agreement is a written contract, the statute of limitations in California for this was years from the date of the breach of the contract, i.e. the date you failed to make a required payment on the car. So it appears the lawsuit was likely timely.
     
  7. LadyMuck

    LadyMuck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Ok, I will go first thing in the morning!

    So basically I’m screwed?!? They can take money out of my check for double the amount of a vehicle I had for not even 6 months that they took back and resold no doubt?!
     
  8. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If they have done things peppering, yes, you are pin the hook for garnishment. The debt has been accruing interest and late fees all these years.

    The question for you is if you EVER received notice of their effort to sue you back in 2004. They are gong to say you were notified. You likely failed to appear in court and the default judgment was issued.

    As above, you need to research whether legal service was made. If it wasn't then their subsequent renewals may not matter and you may find some way to wiggle out of this.

    If you don't find a way out it won't hurt to contact the creditor and try to negotiate a settlement for less. You DID default on agreement.

    If you originally owed $15,000 it is likely the creditor purchased the debt for less than 1/3 of that. If you can make a reasonable offer to pay in full an amount that brings them a profit you could get this resolved. Cash in the hand now is preferable to slowly garnishing you for years on end.
     
  9. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    There is ONE sure fired way to attack the garnishment, assuming you are eligible.

    A person that qualifies can file a chapter seven personal bankruptcy.

    The mere filing of the BK will cause ALL collection activity to cease.

    If the BK is successful, all of her/his debts will be erased (barring a few exceptions).

    First and foremost in your position, the debt resulting from the "repo" and garnishment will be forever removed from your life, never to trouble you again.

    You could research "Chapter Seven Bankruptcy" online, or even discuss it with a couple of local BK lawyers.

    Happy New Year and good luck.
     
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  10. LadyMuck

    LadyMuck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Was I supposed to get served the paperwork? Sign something? Those things never happened. How can I prove that I didn’t receive mail? Besides I moved around a lot when I was younger.

    I’m going to head to court. I will let you know what happens! Thank you!
     
  11. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    There are different ways a person can legally be served notice. If they could not locate you for some reason then there is a method that could have been used, but might still give you grounds to challenge, especially so many years later with no collection effort.
    Typically you would receive personal service and the person who delivered that to you would have provided a sworn statement to the court that you were notified.
    That probably didn't happen.
    If you find that the Proof if Service in your case was done by publication, you might go directly to a local attorney with that information to discuss your options. You may not need to hire anyone and accumulate a costly bill, but you can get some advice on whether you have grounds to fight it and how to do so on your own.
     
  12. despritfreya

    despritfreya Active Member

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    The answer is “yes”, unless you pay the judgment, settle with the creditor or file bankruptcy.

    You signed a contract. It does not matter how long you had the car. If you breached the contract the creditor had the right to repo and then sue you for the balance owed. If you failed to defend yourself a judgment was entered and renewed. The judgment is valid and so is the garnishment until you get the judgment set aside for some reason. Tax Counsel’s info is on the spot correct. As to service, you indicate that you moved a lot. My guess is that service was properly done by publication.

    Let us know what you find out once you look at the court’s file.

    Des.
     
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  13. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    The creditor had to give you credit on the account for what the creditor got in the sale of the car. But you owed what was left over. Also, the creditor in the contract likely had a provision allowing it to tack on attorney's fees, court costs, and costs of collection. And interest piles up on what you owe. The debt has existed now for at least 17 years. So even if the interest rate was very low it would have grown a lot over the years. For example, let's say you owed $10,000 back in 2002. At an interest rate of only 5% that would still mean you'd owe $23,355. If you didn't have great credit your rate could be significantly higher than that. And the effect of interest scales up fast the higher the rate. In my example, if the rate were 10% rather than 5% that initial $10,000 debt would now stand at $54,355. And in California, it appears that judgments for breach of contract where a rate of interest is specified in the contract will accrue interest at the contract rate. If the contract didn't specify a rate, the judgment interest rate is 10%. In short, after 17 years that debt can be very large indeed once you tack on the various charges and interest.
     
  14. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    2014 was 12 years after 2002, not 10 years. Also, most debts fall off your credit after seven years. Regardless, a debt dropping off your credit report has no legal relevance.

    It appears that "MacDowell & Associates" is a law firm, so I suspect that anything it is doing is on behalf of a client. Garnishing wages over an ordinary civil debt is only possible if the creditor (presumably the law firm's client) has a judgment against you, which appears to be the case. The document you attached indicates that the judgment is more than ten years old but has been renewed, so it is legal for the creditor's attorney to try and enforce it in any way permitted by the Code of Civil Procedure.

    The only apparent possibility would be a bankruptcy filing (which isn't to say that you're necessarily eligible to file BK).

    There are many statutes of limitations (SOL). However, the SOL is an affirmative defense that must be pleaded and proved by the defendant. Since you apparently didn't receive actual notice of the lawsuit, you didn't have an opportunity to mount a defense. Unfortunately, it's also too late for you to challenge the entry of the default judgment on the basis that you didn't receive actual notice.

    The dismissal that appears on the case summary is a dismissal of "doe" defendants. It's something that's done as a matter of routine when a default judgment is sought.

    If you don't file bankruptcy, yes.

    As I mentioned, it's too late to challenge this. No you needn't have signed anything, no you wouldn't have been served by mail, and yes you should have been served. However, it's possible that proper service was effected even though you didn't receive actual notice. It's unfortunate, but it happens from time to time.
     
  15. LadyMuck

    LadyMuck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you! I went to court! Found out the original judgement was for $8,000 and they have a "proof of service" filed... but it says by personal service to me or person authorized to receive service of process for party. Regardless... I never got it! I wasn't living at the address they
    delivered it to at the time...

    I called the people trying to collect to see if we could avoid court. He was just rude and unprofessional. Called me a liar and said I am not trustworthy because I owed someone money. Needless to say the conversation was a joke.

    I got paperwork from the self help center and I filled it out and sent it to the Sheriffs Dept. that is in charge of this. Then I'm going to set a court date to fight this. I also sent the company that instigated this a copy.

    I will let you know what happens. Thanks for the responses and help!

    Happy New Year!
     
  16. LadyMuck

    LadyMuck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you! I went to court! Found out the original judgement was for $8,000 and they have a "proof of service" filed... but it says by personal service to me or person authorized to receive service of process for party. Regardless... I never got it! I wasn't living at the address they
    delivered it to at the time...

    I called the people trying to collect to see if we could avoid court. He was just rude and unprofessional. Called me a liar and said I am not trustworthy because I owed someone money. Needless to say the conversation was a joke.

    I got paperwork from the self help center and I filled it out and sent it to the Sheriffs Dept. that is in charge of this. Then I'm going to set a court date to fight this. I also sent the company that instigated this a copy.

    I will let you know what happens. Thanks for the responses and help!

    Happy New Year!
     
  17. LadyMuck

    LadyMuck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you! I went to court! Found out the original judgement was for $8,000 and they have a "proof of service" filed... but it says by personal service to me or person authorized to receive service of process for party. Regardless... I never got it! I wasn't living at the address they
    delivered it to at the time...

    I called the people trying to collect to see if we could avoid court. He was just rude and unprofessional. Called me a liar and said I am not trustworthy because I owed someone money. Needless to say the conversation was a joke.

    I got paperwork from the self help center and I filled it out and sent it to the Sheriffs Dept. that is in charge of this. Then I'm going to set a court date to fight this. I also sent the company that instigated this a copy.

    I will let you know what happens. Thanks for the responses and help!

    Happy New Year!
     
  18. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Not really sure what this might mean. The case went "to court" over a decade ago.

    What paperwork? Fight it on what basis?
     
  19. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    It is said that proving a negative is almost impossible.

    I hope you prevail, but it won't harm you to speak to a couple bankruptcy attorneys.

    If you are eligible to file a Chapter Personal BK, you'll have the last laugh, and you'll be able to avoid the levy against your hard earned wages!
     
  20. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    My guess would be opposing the wage garnishment order, which the OP certainly may try to do, though of course the OP would need valid grounds to succeed.
     

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