Recently I had a business client come to me who was owed a good chunk of money from a contractor from a previous job.

After sending a letter to the contractor demanding payment to which the contractor did not respond, we filed a lawsuit against the contractor in the Maricopa County Justice Court claiming breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

After serving the Complaint and the Summons on the contractor, the contractor failed to respond and we filed our Application for Entry of Default which would allow my client to get a money judgment against the contractor.

After the applicable time period and providing all of the appropriate notices, a Default Judgment was entered by the court against the contractor in favor of my client.

However, as referenced in my previous article on garnishments, a judgment is simply a piece of paper ordering one party to pay another party a certain amount of money. The most difficult part of the process would be compelling the contractor to pay either voluntarily or involuntarily through other legal means and methods (i.e., garnishment, property levy, etc.).

Because the contractor had failed to respond to the lawsuit, it was no surprise that the contractor also failed to respond to our subsequent demands for payment after we had the judgment. Thus, we decided to pursue a non-earnings garnishment to hopefully get the money judgment satisfied and to get my client paid.

One of the most common types of non-earnings garnishments is to garnish money being held in the judgment debtor’s bank account. In order to do this however, you need to know the name of bank where debtor’s accounts are located and you need to know if the debtor has any money in his accounts.

In this particular instance, my client provided me with an old check the contractor had used to pay on a previous job. With this check I knew where the contractor banked and I knew the account number.

This is where it gets interesting … On a whim, I telephoned the bank’s automated teller. When I entered the account number, the automated teller asked for the personal identification number. Of course, I did not know the PIN so I just happened to enter “1 – 2 – 3 – 4” and sure enough, that was the correct number. The automated teller confirmed that the account was holding more than enough cash to satisfy the judgment amount.

Knowing this, I immediately filed an Application for Writ of Garnishment which was granted and signed by the judge. I then immediately served the Writ on the bank where the contractor’s account was held. When the bank filed the required Answer to the Writ of Garnishment, the bank confirmed that there was money in the account (which we already knew) and that the bank was setting aside the money as they are required to do so that the judgment might be paid.

Shortly thereafter, we obtained a Garnishment Judgment and sent it to the bank. The bank, of course, paid my client the money they had set aside and the judgment was satisfied and my client was paid in full plus interest.

The point of this story is, first, to show that a garnishment can be successful method in getting you the money you are owed once you have obtained a judgment; and second, to make sure your personal identification number is not “1 – 2 – 3 – 4.”

If someone or some business owes you money, give us a call to see what we can do for you to collect what is rightfully yours.