There are seven critical mistakes judgment creditors make when attempting to collect their judgment. We’ll be discussing each mistake in detail… and how to correct it. Last week, we covered mistake #5: Wasting Significant Money Attempting to Collect from a Judgement Debtor Who “Has No Assets.” Now, let’s identify the problem we are dealing with this week.
MISTAKE #6: FAILURE TO ASCERTAIN THE PSYCHOGRAPHICS OF THE JUDGMENT DEBTOR
Your chances of successfully enforcing your judgment are significantly enhanced when you understand the psychographics of the judgment debtor. You must know what makes him tick to understand how to attack him.
Sun Tzu says in “The Art of War,” “Take from a man that which he cherishes and he will conform to your desires.” This is one of my favorite quotes from “The Art of War.” There is much wisdom in that book that applies directly, in my opinion, to the practice of judgment enforcement. I have relied on the wisdom of Sun Tzu for years in representing our clients in our financial forensic research and consulting practice.
Financial Forensic Services typically gathers as much research and conducts as many interviews with people who know the debtor(s) as possible to understand how they think and what they like and dislike. For example, while interviewing the former wife, former personal assistant, and former business partner of one of our judgment debtors, we learned he was passionate about big game hunting in Alaska.
Our attorney obtained a Writ of Execution from the court, and we accompanied the Sheriff’s deputies to the debtor’s home to execute that Writ. The first assets we took were the standing polar bear and the mounted moose. As we started to take several high power hunting rifles, the debtor became obviously distraught and demanded we stop the seizure of his assets and allow him to settle the judgment. Within 48 hours, he paid the entire high, six-figure judgment in cash and was able to preserve his trophies, expensive guns, and other assets.
In another case, our client had been pursuing their judgment debtor for over four years, attempting to collect a multimillion-dollar judgment. They had been through two major law firms and three private investigators, had zero recovery, no leads, and nothing but cancelled checks to their law firms to show for their unsuccessful efforts.
From our client, we learned the debtor’s pride and joy was his restored vintage Mercedes Benz. We reviewed his cancelled checks we had subpoenaed from the past 24-months. We found a check signed by his new wife from their joint account for over $150,000 to pay for the sailboat she had gave him on his birthday. As the debtor and I stood on the front porch of his country club mansion, watching the award-winning restored Mercedes and his new sailboat being towed away to be auctioned off by the Sheriff, he turned to me with tears in his eyes and asked, “What is it going to take to get you off my butt?” I explained to him that he could just consider me to be his new business partner. I told him I wished him no ill will, but from every success in the world he had from that point forward, I would be taking part of every dollar he earned to satisfy my client’s judgment against him. I told him if he thought he would not enjoy having me as a partner, I would go away, but first I needed 100% of the balance of the judgment plus interest and cost.
He immediately agreed to pay the total judgment and cost, and my client agreed to waive the interest. Our client was paid in full that week.
If you take time to learn the PSYCHOGRAPHICS of the Judgment Debtor, you can move in the right directions quickly and enjoy a greater recovery.
“Take from a man that which he cherishes and he will conform to your desires.”