Deposing the Husband.
Deposing the Husband, or any significant other, can be a powerful tool that leads to collection.
While credit card collections are not what we typically handle, our team was up to the task when a client bought a small package of credit card debt that originally was issued by a local bank. Although we didn’t know it going in, a recent marriage for the woman who owed the debt would be key to collecting every penny of what our client was owed.
Once we heard the full story, we accepted the engagement and filed a lawsuit. We were going up against the debtor’s excellent lawyer, who was very skilled in delay tactics. For example, after we filed our motion for summary judgment, her attorney convinced the judge to issue two continuances, which only delayed the proceedings.
After we presented our arguments in court, the judge issued a judgment favoring our client and we began our post-judgment procedures, which included sending the opposing counsel our interrogatories (i.e., questions we wanted the debtor to answer) and our requests for production of documents. As often happens, the debtor’s answers were insufficient. After several additional hearings, the judge eventually forced the debtor to fully disclose her assets and business dealings.
That’s when we served discovery on her employer and gathered all her employment documents. At this point, it unfortunately looked like there was little chance the woman could pay a meaningful amount of the debt, making her “judgment-proof.”
Since we never waste clients’ resources when there is clearly little chance of successfully collecting a debt, we decided that we should depose the woman and likely close the case file “for now.” We sometimes will close a case “for now” only to reopen it later once we believe the debtor can pay, which can happen within a few weeks, months or longer depending on the circumstances.
During the debtor’s deposition, we discovered that she had recently married, which we immediately saw as an opportunity. That’s because experience has taught us that, given the chance, debtors will rarely disclose the full extent of their debt to their significant others.
We responded by sending a deposition notice to her husband. Within a week, his wife was offering to settle. It was clear that she did not want us talking to her husband, so we advised our client to not settle for anything less than the full balance of the debt, including interest and attorneys’ fees. Since the documents we collected showed that a lump sum payment was not possible, we helped our client quickly negotiate a favorable settlement that allowed the debtor to pay the full balance owed over a 30-month period.
Our client was ecstatic since they felt this debt was uncollectible from the beginning. That’s why we always remind ourselves that you never know where a debtor’s weakness lies. The trick is a willingness to be relentless, which is our specialty.