Congratulations, after a perhaps long and hard-fought battle, you’ve accomplished the goal that you initially set out to achieve when you first filed your lawsuit – you’ve won! This is no small feat and certainly cause for celebration, but it does not mean that your litigation efforts are over. After the judge, or a jury, grants you your award or judgment, you must still pursue or “execute” on the judgment.
Lawsuits typically resolve with one of two different outcomes – you receive an order from the court requiring the party to do something (or refrain from doing something) or you receive a monetary award. What happens next after your lawsuit depends on which of these two outcomes you achieved.
The Easy Route in Cedar Rapids
Before discussing what happens when things don’t go as planned, let’s first turn to how things should work in an ideal world. If your opposing party respects the court and is willing to acknowledge the outcome that has been reached, the next step is for the losing party to abide by the court’s order and either follow its requirements or pay you the money that you are entitled to.
If your case has resulted in a court order requiring the other party to abide by certain requirements or restrictions, as long as the party does anything that it is affirmatively obligated to do, and refrains from any behaviors in violation of the order, then there is little that you will need to do on your end.
If your case resulted in a monetary judgment then you should expect to receive that payment from the opposing party. You may need to go through some logistical hurdles to coordinate receipt of that payment but the process should ideally not be too burdensome.
One thing you should be aware of in the event of a monetary payment is the possibility of tax consequences for the payment you receive. This depends entirely on the reason for the payment and you will want to consult with a tax advisor directly to determine whether you have any reporting obligations to the IRS.
When Receiving Payment Doesn’t Go as Planned
Although everyone hopes to receive a receipt of their monetary award promptly after completion of a lawsuit, this doesn’t always happen. You may have an opposing party who wants to make it as difficult as possible for you to collect, or you may be facing a defendant who claims that he or she doesn’t actually have the money to pay you. When this happens, you will need to take additional action to get the money that you are entitled to.
Efforts to recover on a monetary judgment are known as “collection” efforts. Your existing business litigation attorneys may be able to help you with the collection process or they may refer you out to an attorney who specializes in collection.
Collection involves utilizing a variety of different legal tools that are available to force the opposing party to pay you the money you are entitled to. Some of these collection methods are very easy. For example, you can send notice of your award to the opposing party’s banks, employer (if one exists), or other parties that may be paying the opposing party money. These notices let individuals know that instead of paying the opposing party, they should be paying you.
These types of notices (known as garnishment) may allow you to collect a good amount of money, but if your money judgment is large you may need to go after larger assets that a business or individual has in their possession.
Here the process becomes much more complicated, but you may be able to force the sale of the opposing party’s office space, physical assets, business, or home. You may also be able to acquire their valuable assets like their intellectual property. You will have to work with the court and the court’s procedures in these efforts and can’t simply show up and demand that physical assets be handed over to you.
What About When Court Orders Are Violated?
If the outcome of your lawsuit was a court order requiring the opposing party to take certain actions or refrain from certain conduct, and the opposing party refuses to do what is required of it, then your efforts to enforce your judgment will be different.
Specifically, you will need to go back to the court and explain what is happening and ask the court to further enforce its order or punish the opposing party for their actions. How the court responds will depend on how they view the opposing party’s “nonaction.” The court may issue an initial warning to the party to shape up and comply, or explain that they will begin to implement punishment moving forward for continued noncompliance.
If they view the opposing party’s actions as more severe, the court may impose sanctions, such as monetary penalties on the opposing party in order to punish them for what they have already done. In the most serious of scenarios, a party can even be held in contempt of court for failing to follow a court order, which can result in jail time or fines.
Iowa Attorneys Helping You From Start to Finish
Throughout the course of the business litigation process, the ultimate goal is to get a client a successful outcome or resolution of a case. However, a litigator’s job does not end there. Even after a lawsuit is completed or an order handed down, your attorney should stick with you to make sure that the opposing party complies with the requirements of any court judgment and pays you the money that you are entitled to.
If your opposing party fails to do what is required of it, or him, then additional efforts to force compliance may be necessary. This may include returning to the court and seeking additional enforcement, or going after the opposing party’s assets through diligent collection efforts.
No matter what your circumstances are or how difficult it may be to get your opposing party to comply with a court order, business litigator Jonathan D. Schmidt will aggressively represent your interests even after the trial is over, making sure that you get everything you are entitled to. For more information, contact us online or at (319) 423-3031.