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Problem Solvers: If you win a court judgment, here are tips for how to collect

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- You may win in court, but can you collect? According to one legal expert, nearly 80 percent of court judgments are never paid. FOX 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar has some tips on how to get the money you are owed.

Collecting on a court judgment is something Teresa Lamar knows all about.

"This has kept me up at night," Lamar said.

She's been trying to collect for nearly two years on a judgment she won against her former landlord, Lonnie Caldwell.

"He was a good landlord," said Lamar, until it came time to get her deposit back. When Caldwell refused to return her $1,000 deposit, she sued him and won. That was in 2012 and she still hasn't collected a dime.

Lamar tried filing a garnishment on his bank account, but it was rejected since her landlord deposits his Social Security checks in that account. You can't garnish Social Security.

A frustrated Lamar contacted FOX 4 Problem Solvers and we contacted Attorney Sarah Liesen. Liesen volunteered her services to help Lamar finally collect the money she was awarded in court.

"I know how difficult it is when you get through a lawsuit and you win, and you can't collect," said Liesen, who added that even attorneys can have trouble collecting a judgment.

But Liesen said there's hope in Lamar's case because Lamar has found an asset belonging to her former landlord that she can go after. The asset is the rental income the landlord collects from his tenants.

Liesen said Lamar can file a garnishment against one of the tenants, requesting that the money the tenant would have paid to the landlord for rent, be paid to her instead.

Filing a garnishment can be tricky, but Liesen gave Lamar step-by-step instructions and let Lamar know that she can also charge her former landlord interest for every day the judgment has gone unpaid.

A few months later, with Liesen's help, Lamar finally got her money.

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3 comments

  • Chris

    The percentages should be the other way around, our system is a failure and it is being maintained that way, so long as the legal system collects. Those involved will have to give an account for this before the one True Judge.

  • Peace

    Government does not have a problem collecting there winnings.
    It is hard to win against them when there’s conflict of interest. (Judge, prosecution and witness work for the state)