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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney representing individuals and businesses.
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I've been awarded $6500.00 by small claims against Verizon

Customer Question

I've been awarded $6500.00 by small claims against Verizon Wireless. What is the best way to collect this money from a company?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for using the forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

Congratulations on the successful judgment.

If the defendant does not pay within 30 days (the amount of time for them to pay without incurring interest, and before the court will issue writs to enforce the judgment), you can start using judicial enforcement techniques

These include: bank levies - find a bank where the corporation has a bank account (a process server or private investigator can assist you with this), and have a "levy" issued by the court, then served by the process server (the cost of this is added to the judgment).

For a large debtor such as this corporation, that is probably the fastest and easiest way to enforce your judgment.

  • (However, I would speculate that your debtor is going to pay the judgment within the 30 days, if they fail, you may want to simply send a demand letter to the attorney that represented them in court prior to going to the time and effort of the bank levy - but you do have a relatively quick and easy way to enforce your judgment if they do not comply in a reasonable manner)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They have 10 days to appeal. Should I send the judgment directly to the corporate office with a letter of demand first?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No one showed up for court.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

You will want to wait out the appeal time - trying to enforce your judgment beforehand is going to be counterproductive (you don't gain anything by doing this and you may push them to filing an appeal they otherwise wouldn't have done).

If I understand your situation correctly you obtained a "default judgment" - default judgments can be "vacated" (set aside) up to 6 months after they are entered, meaning that the defendant can appear and try to vacate the judgment and have the matter heard on the merits. So some plaintiffs (most attorneys) do not try to enforce a civil judgment - particularly against a debtor that is very solvent and unlikely to suddenly become unable to satisfy a small (for them) judgment.

I would also suggest that you very carefully review your proof of service and summons (you probably did this already, but many plaintiffs that obtain a default, particularly against well resourced defendants such as yours, didn't get the service down correctly - you need to ensure that you served the "Agent for Service of Process" as identified on your "Secretary of State's" website. If you did not serve this person, your judgment is not going to be enforceable as you did not properly serve the defendant - this is the most common problem for "pro per" plaintiffs that sue corporations or LLCs, so I recommend double checking prior to making demands for payment).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They were served by certified mail both times in accordance with the Court's process. The court would not have heard the case if the serving papers were not accepted.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

I understand - but I also know that in my experience this is the weakest part of most individual's claims.

The issue is not the manner in which service is performed, but rather the person or entity that is served. The court does not confirm that you served the right person, that is your obligation. I am just advising you to double check as it is usually easier to fix these things if it is an issue.

Again, I am not telling you that you actually made an error, I haven't read your papers, but my experience has shown this is a common factor when the defendant fails to appear at a court hearing.