The United States has some of the most liberal tort laws in the world. In this country, you can sue a fast-food restaurant for making their coffee too hot and win millions. It is true what they say: just about anybody can sue just about anybody else. Even the most unscrupulous of characters is entitled to relief under our tort law.
A Disgraced Lawyer and Celebrity Client
If you need proof of just how accessible our tort system is, look no further than high-powered superstar lawyer Michael Avenatti. The previously unknown attorney rose to fame as the attorney for adult movie star Stormy Daniels when she attempted to sue former president Donald Trump. Avenatti became a household name thanks to his many press conferences and cable news appearances.
Unfortunately for him and Daniels, the case against Trump was lost. Matters were made worse for Avenatti when New York prosecutors charged him with theft and extortion. California followed with charges that Avenatti had stolen millions from his clients.
In a separate 2019 lawsuit, Daniels sued the city of Columbus, Ohio for false arrest, false imprisonment, and more. The city agreed to a $450,000 settlement. Avenatti then went after Daniels. He claimed he had not been paid for services rendered in her Trump lawsuit. He sued to be first in line for her settlement payments from Ohio.
We All Have Legal Rights
Regardless of anyone’s personal opinions of Michael Avenatti and Stormy Daniels, they have legal rights. We all do. Even though Avenatti was eventually convicted by a New York Court, he is still entitled to be paid for the work he did for Daniels. The two had a legal agreement. If he did the work and was not paid as he alleges, suing is one option.
So what would happen if he sued and won? He and his attorneys would have the same options as anyone else. Winning the lawsuit would mean a judgment being entered on his behalf, and against Daniels. It would then be up to Avenatti and his representatives to collect on that judgment.
What Judgment Collection Looks Like
A typical case of judgment collection follows a fairly routine process, according to Salt Lake City’s Judgment Collectors. Once a judgment is entered, it can be enforced for 7-10 years. The plaintiff and its representatives can use whatever tools are available to them in that state.
Most judgment collection agencies and attorneys will first try to encourage the defendant to establish a workable payment plan. That is the easiest and least painful way to take care of the matter. If that fails, wage and bank account garnishment may be on the table. Only a small number of states prohibit garnishment.
If necessary, creditors and their collection agencies can obtain court orders to seize and liquidate debtor assets. There are some limits on what types of assets can be seized, but there is an awful lot that creditors can do in this regard. If a debtor owns a vacation home for example, it could be liquidated.
Creditors and their collection agencies can go after cars, boats, and so forth. They can go after rental properties and business assets. Other than primary residences and a base amount of cash required to cover one’s daily expenses, creditors can go after pretty much anything else.
It is true what they say: just about anyone can sue anybody else in this country. Whether that is right or wrong is a matter of debate. It is what it is, regardless of who you are and what you might have done in the past.