Here at Final Verdict Solutions, we deal with a lot of “frequent fliers”. That’s right, many debtors have multiple outstanding judgments against them, and if they have money, we love collecting on them. In 2018, we collected two judgments against an individual in Utah totaling $16,000, via bank levies on the debtor’s accounts. As you can imagine, this debtor wasn’t happy to wake up one day and see $16k gone from his accounts. We subsequently received a very emotionally-charged phone call from the debtor, whose anger and belligerent behavior afterwards stands out even today. This individual also had a criminal record for getting drunk in a bowling alley and pulling a gun on a police officer who responded to the incident. After telling the debtor we had no sympathy for him whatsoever, especially in light of his frequent use of four-letter words and derogatory commentary, it was on to the next case.
As it would turn out, this debtor was sued again and again in the years to come, and received a judgment against him about six months later, in federal court this time, for $40,000. We began enforcement a few years later after the creditor realized he was tired of spinning his wheels and not getting his money. Unfortunately, the debtor was ready this time, and wasn’t going to make things easy. We began subpoenaing financial records and also served him with post-judgment discovery requests. Minutes after the certified mail package was delivered to his house, our debtor sent a text message with a photo of his middle finger extended over the court documents. He also sent a rant that he would never pay the judgment, and said “tell the judge to suck my [you know what]”. Yes, he really put that in writing!! You can see where this is going…
Of course, he didn’t answer the post-judgment discovery, so we filed a Motion to Compel with the Federal Court. We included screenshots of the debtor’s unredacted text messages, showing the judge exactly what he’d said (after all, he requested we do so…). Usually debtors get 14 days to respond under these circumstances, but the Federal Judge granted the motion a few days later and ordered the debtor to produce all responsive documents and answer all the interrogatories, without objections in the next 60 days.
Our debtor still refused to cooperate, we asked the Judge to hold the debtor in contempt of court. At the contempt hearing, the Judge granted our motion and found that the debtor was in violation of the court order, and thus he was in contempt of court. As a penalty for contempt of court, the Judge issued an Arrest Warrant instructing the U.S. Marshals to go out, find the debtor, cuff and stuff him, and bring him before the court to answer for his contempt. Additionally, at our request, the Court entered monetary sanctions of $100.00 per day that the debtor remained in contempt of court.
The lesson here is Judges, especially Federal Judges, don’t like it when their orders are disobeyed. Contempt of Court can be a very effective remedy against the most difficult debtors, and can be used as a last resort when court orders aren’t complied with.