By Shojin Volunteer Contributor
In going back over some of our older articles, I noticed that many of them were written for content, not for the reader experience. Because of this, I have taken the time to go back over some of these articles, in some cases splitting them into several articles to help the reader weed through large swaths of information. We hope this makes this information a little easier to “digest” and more useful to our visitors.
Jeff Walker, President, MovingScam.com
Step 9 – Court day arrives Bring all of your paperwork with you. It certainly isn’t a bad idea to rehearse what you are going to say to the judge.
So what happened at my hearing?
The Defendant never showed up – not that I was expecting anyone from a California-based company to fly to Pennsylvania. Nor did he file any Notice of Intent to Defend.
And would you believe that the judge was away on a family emergency on my hearing date? The court clerks kindly explained to me that because no one showed up except me, the judge automatically ruled in my favor! How’s that for swift justice! A few weeks later, another envelope arrived from the courthouse with the Notice of Judgment/Transcript. This is the “golden ticket” you’ve been waiting for.
The Transcript, which again goes to both the Defendant and to you, basically says:
“This is to notify you that judgment for Plaintiff was entered against [moving company name] in the amount of [insert dollar amount] on Jan. 21, 2003.
The Transcript also says that the Defendant has 30 days to appeal this decision.
Step 10 – Sister state filings Before your next step, you must wait the mandatory 30 days. I wasn’t sure if this meant 30 business days, or 30 calendar days, so I waited 30 business days just to make sure. Since the judgment date was Jan. 21, I waited until March 6 before filing my next notice.
The moving company I filed against is located in California and the judgment was from Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the California courts cannot enforce a Pennsylvania judgment, so the moving company basically doesn’t have to pay me. Was all this effort for nothing? Not quite.
All states have something called “sister state” agreements. Any state can be a sister state as long as nothing in its laws prohibits another state from enforcing its judgments. For example, if the debtor (the moving company) now lives or does business in California and has assets there, a creditor (me) can have the judgment granted in another state (Pennsylvania) entered in California.
What’s involved in filing for a sister-state judgment? More paperwork of course. In California, for example, here is what’s required to file for a sister-state judgment: Application for Entry of Judgment on Sister State Judgment Notice of Entry of Judgment on Sister State Judgment Certified copy of the original Entry of Judgment Filing fees Self-addressed stamped envelope. The Application is exactly that – you are asking that the judgment granted in another state be “transformed” into a judgment in a sister state.
[This is ] Key – You need to file the all of your paperwork in the district where the Defendant does business in. This isn’t always easy, but start with finding out the county the Defendant’s business is located in.
The Notice is what is sent to the Defendant to inform him of the application for sister state judgment. Once again, the debtor has 30 days to present evidence why the judgment should not be granted. Certified copy – you need to get certified/notarized copies of the original judgment from the courthouse. You will probably receive four identical certified copies – send them all in.
Filing fees – you need to find out what the exact filing fees are. Make sure you explain to the clerk if you have judgments against both the owner and the moving company.
The Final Chapter is not yet written It is at this point where my story ends. I have just sent off my paperwork to the California courts and now must wait again.
I’ve spent months in research and a little over $200 in filing fees, stamps, etc. and I still haven’t seen a penny of the money owed to me. Has it been worth it?
You bet it has! The feeling that I have the power to do something about the moving company that ripped me off has made this effort worthwhile.
Stay tuned for more updates as they occur.
*Editor’s Note: We have not heard anything back from this volunteer, and as such cannot make any claims as to the success of this tactic. If anyone has successfully completed pursuing their moving company in small claims court, please let us know on our “Report a Scam” forum.
List of helpful links
How to Sue in Small Claims Court http://www.peopleslawyer.net/smallclaims/
Index of all states websites http://www.firstgov.gov/Agencies/State_and_Territories.shtml
HOW CAN I ENFORCE A JUDGMENT AGAINST A JUDGMENT DEBTOR IN ANOTHER STATE? http://bankruptcy-law.freeadvice.com/collections/enforce_judgment.htm
FindLaw Court Forms http://forms.lp.findlaw.com/index.html
Small Claims Court Information and Links (lists dollar limits) http://law.freeadvice.com/resources/smallclaimscourts.htm
Collecting on a Small Claims Court Judgment http://www.prairielaw.com/articles/article.asp?channelId=30&subId=125&articleId=1497