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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 118659
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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My car has been taken by Wells Fargo in violation of an order

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My car has been taken by Wells Fargo in violation of an order from a federal judge. I filed bankruptcy. Because of that there was a stay on the creditor repossessing the car. I tried to work it out with the lender but they didn't return my calls or the lawyer's for a keep and pay. The trustee meeting was held. Then the creditor's lawyer filed a motion for relief from the stay almost a month before discharge. The judge in the bankruptcy court ruled that the stay would be lifted and set the date for almost a month away. That means he ruled that there would be even more time after the discharge. However I went outside yesterday and the car was gone. I called the police and they said it was repossessed and was in the repossession national database. I do not understand how they can take the car and put it in the database in violation of a ruling by the judge. Wouldn't they be in contempt of court? The police told me that this happens all the time. What should I do and what recourse do I have? I can't get another car loan until the discharge takes place and is on my credit report, so as of right now I have no car.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

They cannot repossess the car if the bankruptcy court stated there was a stay and never listed the stay. If they have improperly repossessed the car, you have a right to go back to the bankruptcy court for a contempt of court order and fines and penalties, including attorney's fees for them illegally repossessing the car contrary to the court's order and also for the damages for loss of use and any other damages you have incurred as a result of them repossessing the car contrary to the bankruptcy court order. The bankruptcy court can also issue an order to immediately release the car to you as part of your filing for the contempt motion with you filing an emergency ex parte motion for release of the vehicle together with the motion for contempt against WF.

Your legal recourse though is through the bankruptcy court as they were the court that issued the order and they have to enforce that order.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Could you please explain what the damages are? Am I able to rent a car and claim that as damages?

Thank you for your response.

Damages would be all damages you have incurred, such as renting a car or if you lose your job because you reasonably cannot get a ride or public transportation or rent a car and even lost wages. All of these damages directly flowing from them improperly taking your car would be something you could recover in addition to any penalties the court wants to impose on them (Usually penalties would be equal to or double the amount of your actual damages) plus attorney's fees for having to take them to court.
Law Educator, Esq. and 3 other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

This matter has become more complicated and bizarre. I found out about PACER and looked up my case. The hearing I had was on a Friday. It seems that the following Monday the creditor's lawyer filed an order which was a copy of their original motion to life the stay. Somehow it got through the court the same day and into the docket report as approved even though it did not state what the judge ruled and only repeated their motion, which was not what the judge decided. I don't see how such papers can get approved without the judge checking to make sure it is correct. I have learned that the court trusts law firms to file orders that reflect the judge's decisions. But here they just repeated their own motion, got the approval and took the car. I was not notified of any of this. What legal rights do I have against the filing of an order that does not correspond to what the judge said. To make it worse, I do not have a transcript. I can order it, but it could take a few weeks for it to be processed. I do not know if they make a video or audio recording of the hearings.

Thank you for your response and your update.

I am afraid you are going to have to go back to court and file an emergency ex parte motion in the bankruptcy court to get an order/injunction to rescind the repossession and you are going to need to get into the court files to find out just why the judge did this which was contrary to what the judge initially ordered. These cases get complex fast, as you are finding out. It is going to now require an emergency motion to the bankruptcy court and if the counsel lied in their order a motion for sanctions would also be filed under Rule 11, for filing false pleadings to the court.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I want to report that Wells Fargo called me and said they are returning the car. The told me that the order is for the date about a month from the hearing, as stated by the judge at the hearing. The police had given me the phone number on the repossession. I called over the weekend and left a message telling them that they were in contempt of court and needed to return the car. I guess the creditor's lawyer told them the same thing. Thank you for your advice, which helped me in knowing how to respond to them.


Thank you for your update. I am glad that this worked out for you and that they are returning the car. Stay on top of them and make sure they do it promptly.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you again. They returned the car a few hours later. They also offered me the keep & pay without reaff.

That is very good news. Thank you for the update. You need to make them put that offer in writing.