I recently saw this brief article about the mother of Ron Goldman attempting to sell the $9 million judgment she has against O.J. Simpson.
For those who don’t know, if you go to court and win your case, you end up with a “judgment” against the person you sued.
I wanted to comment on this because it directly relates to some of the advice I have to give to clients.
Sometimes you can get a judgment, but it’s not worth the piece of paper it’s written on if you can’t collect on it. Unfortunately, sometimes, it is not worth filing a lawsuit against a person. Very often, people who don’t have insurance don’t have it for a reason. They are deadbeats. They are judgment proof. In other words, you can’t get blood from a stone.
Making a Decision About Filing Suit
The decision on this has to be made on a case-by-case basis. I, as other lawyers, have to do an asset check to find out if it is even worth filing suit against the person. There can be a lot of time and money involved in filing a lawsuit and taking it to a judgment. There can then be a lot of time and money involved in trying to collect on the judgment. I sometimes have to tell clients that it is simply not worth it. I hate to do it, and I don’t do it lightly. I have to do the investigation necessary to see if it will be worth it, and then I advise the client. It really hurts to have to tell a badly injured person that he/she is going to collect little and possibly nothing.
It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Many years ago, I remember a judgment against a dentist for dental malpractice. Unfortunately, the dentist had no insurance. It turned out that the reason he had no insurance is because he had no money. He had been using all his money to pay his lawyer to defend him against the United States government for various fraud charges. The judgment was unopposed, meaning the dentist didn’t show up to fight the case. However, he went to jail and the government took what little assets he had. No one could ever collect anything on the judgment.
It’s unusual to have something like this happen with a professional like a dentist. It happens more often with the uninsured deadbeat who hurts someone with his car. The scumbag that killed the poor lady and her three children a few weeks ago comes to mind. Hopefully, he will be in jail for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, no one will ever be able to collect a civil judgment against him.