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What Are Your Options When it Comes to Pursuing a Third Party to Collect a Florida Judgment Owed to You?

In some cases, completing your trial and getting a favorable verdict and an award of damages is the end of the line. In other cases, securing a judgment is just one step among many in obtaining the final outcome you need. Your situation may dictate that you have to take one or even multiple legal actions in order to get the money that the trial court said you were owed. These situations illustrate the importance of having experienced Florida commercial litigation counsel who can help you at every step required to get the compensation owed to you.

A recent case from South Florida is an example of a scenario in which the award of damages was not the “end of the road.” The owner of a fast-foot restaurant chain and an ice cream brand had sued a Panamanian corporation in Panama and won, with the court awarding damages to the plaintiff. In seeking to collect on its judgment, the plaintiff engaged in further investigation and discovered that a third party held, in a bank account in Miami, more than $13 million in funds. The significance of this entity and its bank account was that, allegedly, that third party owed the defendant $13 million.

Since the money allegedly was owed to the defendant, and the defendant owed the plaintiff payment of the damages award, the plaintiff served a writ of garnishment on the bank. The writ of garnishment is the tool that allows you, as the creditor, to seize money owed to you by a defendant, even though that money is held by a third party. Sometimes, these writs can be used to seize from an employer the wages of an employee who owes a court-ordered obligation or payment. Other times, it can be used in situations like this.

The bank questioned whether the funds in the third-party account were actually covered by the writ, so the plaintiff sent the bank an audit of the third party’s financial records, which showed a $13 million dividend declared by the third party that was payable to the defendant. The third party asked the trial court to dissolve the writ. The plaintiff, after the request to dissolve, sent the third party a request for certain information and disclosures.

The third party asked the court to block the discovery request, arguing that it was not a true party to the garnishment case and was, therefore, not obligated to participate in discovery. That argument did not succeed. The third party lost its opportunity to claim that it was not a party and became required to provide the requested discovery when it took steps to dissolve the writ. When an entity affirmatively takes action to dissolve a writ, that party “has assented to the court’s jurisdiction over it and is a party to the garnishment proceedings.”

This case is a reminder of the many procedural steps and techniques that may be necessary to achieve the successful result you deserve. To make sure that your business’ interests are protected properly and completely, talk to the skilled South Florida commercial litigation attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman. Our attorneys have been diligently working for our clients for many years to offer them effective and reliable representation.

Contact us online or by calling (954) 237-1777 to schedule your consultation and find out how this firm can help you.

More blog posts:

Rejected Offer Allows Insurance Company to Recover Attorneys’ Fees in Florida Promissory Note Dispute, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, April 6, 2018

How to Use an Opponent’s Own Litigation Tactics Against It in Your Florida Commercial Litigation Case, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, March 19, 2018


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