Negotiating Judgment Settlements

Mediation has failed and the court has decided to rule in the favor of the creditor. Not the outcome you may have hoped for, but regardless you now have to deal with it.

When you settle a judgment you almost always have to so with the law firm that represented the original creditor. Most creditors do not go to court. They are represented by local attorneys hired just to oppose you in court. Recently there was a case where a young lady was divorced and the court ruled where the new truck bought during the marriage was rewarded to the ex-husband. It was decided he needed it for transportation to get to work so as to pay his child support. This case demonstrates how the “system” completely overlooked or was not aware of consumer credit law or simply overlooked the issue.

The young lady was the one with the good credit during the marriage. The husband had lousy credit. Over the course of the marriage they had two children, everyone was happy, and daddy worked hard at his drywall job to support his family. Now the fly in the ointment if you please. It seems that daddy had some old buddies from his earlier days who liked to get together at a local watering hole and imbibe in a few adult beverages and throw some few darts. No real harm in that at first.

This at first didn’t perturb the young wife. She reasoned her hard working man deserved to unwind with the boys. The problem started when he took up darts. What happened was he became pretty good at throwing the things, so much so he was invited to join the dart team there at the bar. He readily accepted the invitation, but failed to mention to the wife that being on the team entailed his having to practice his new skill every Tuesday and Thursday night at the same bar. The wife was understandably unhappy with this new development and made her displeasure known. It was either her and the kids or the dart team. She lost to the dart tournament.

This was the last straw. Attorneys were hired and divorce papers filed. The court date was set and all parties appeared before the judge. It was during this time the judge gave the truck to the louse of a husband. The only thing everyone forgot was the girl was not a co-signer but a co-buyer on the truck. After the divorce she moves from Ohio to Florida to start a new life.

Now Mr. Dart Player decided to keep up the dart practice. In fact he became obsessed by it to the point it was all he did. He got fired for missing work and subsequently lost his job and shortly thereafter the truck was repossessed. You can guess the rest of the story. The girl was sued in Florida for a deficiency judgment on the same truck the judge had awarded the ex-husband. The creditor however could have cared less and when the payments were missed they came after the poor girl because she was the co-buyer.

The poor girl was served a summons to appear in court in Lee County, Florida but was so intimidated she failed to show up for mediation. There was a default judgment rendered against her. Now his innocent mother of two was a victim of poor jurisprudence. How can she buy a house with thousands of dollars in a deficiency judgment against her? She was rejected by at least five (5) mortgages because of the judgment.

Does this story have a happy ending? In this case it does. She hired a competent attorney to look at the mess. It was discovered the creditor’s attorney had used the default judgment to his advantage and awarded himself a fee along with the court judgment. The problem is the attorney isn’t allowed to receive a fee in this case which was pointed out to him by the competent attorney. When it was mentioned that the Florida Bar would be interested in this matter strange and wonderful things began to happen. By some miracle the large judgment was reduced down to $2500 with decent payment arrangements.

The creditor accepted the new terms. The girl started making payments and later proved to a mortgage company she was worth the risk and now is rid of the dart thrower, the truck payments and is living in her new home.

Remember, it is your responsibility to know your rights.