How to take home cash when you win in small claims court in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Call it a summer school lesson in democracy.

For several days, Rebecca Cooley and her family staged a protest against a Kansas City car lot. She said she wanted her kids to know that it's good to stand up for your rights, particularly when the law is on your side.

Cooley decided to picket Select Auto on East 12th Street after she successfully sued the company last May, but the company's never paid the judgment.

"I bought the car with the agreement that they had seven days and whatever happened to the car they'd fix," Cooley said.

But when she brought her car to Auto Select for repairs, not only were the repairs not made, but items were stolen out of her car, according to her lawsuit.

"I'm just charging for belongings and the damage," Cooley said.

No one from Auto Select showed up to court, so Cooley received a default judgment for $2,439.19. But that was two months ago and Auto Select has yet to pay a dime.

That's why Cooley decided to picket and let the public know, much to the chagrin of owner Elmaddin Ali Humbatov.

"I'm going to sue her," he said. "She can't do this. She can't make my business go down."

Cooley said Auto Select's owner was so mad that he even tore up her signs that she had planted in a lot near his business.

So she called police, who told the owner that Cooley had the right to protest as long as she didn't cross onto his property.

Although picketing a car lot is unusual, Cooley's frustration isn't. There are thousands of people just like her who have successfully sued someone in small claims but never collected on their judgments.

That's why Cooley called FOX4 Problem Solvers. We called a consumer attorney for advice. He said car lots in Missouri must carry a $25,000 bond. That's money Cooley can tap into.

To do that, she will need to send certified copies of her original court petition, her judgment and the docket sheet to the Missouri Department of Revenue Dealer Licensing Division.

She then needs to ask for the money that she was awarded be taken from the car dealer's bond. Bond money is accessible if the car dealer committed fraud or violated the Missouri Merchandising and Practices Act.

It's not a simple process and if the bond company balks at the request, Cooley might have to hire an attorney for help.

But it's still her best chance of getting paid.

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