Your Judgment Creditor's Rights Against Those who Owe You Money

The Langel Firm represents consumers against lawsuits, wage garnishments, and bank seizures usually involving one of these debt collectors.

We've embarked on a recent project to summarize each section of Article 52 of New York procedural law relating to the enforcement of money judgments. Approximately 85% of our work involves battling judgment enforcement. Although many of the collection lawyers we battle don't utilize many of the sections we're summarizing, they all apply in some respect.

New York law provides a comprehensive set of remedies usable by judgment creditors to enforce their judgments. CPLR § 5227 is another example. It's titled, "Payment of debts owed to judgment debtor."

It enables your judgment creditor (assuming you're the judgment debtor) to stand in your shoes to commence a separate action ("special proceeding") against your ganishee (the person or entity that owes you money) to obtain directly a debt owed to you.

The judgment creditor would need to serve notice of it on you, either by registered or certified mail or consistent with service of a summons. The debtor (again, you) —or a third party who also has an interest in the funds—can make a request to the court to get involved in the case. This is called "intervening," and the court needs to grant permission.

The court can direct the garnishee to pay the debt to the judgment creditor directly. Alternatively, the court can award a separate judgment against the garnishee in favor of the judgment creditor for that debt.

This procedure covers any debt that "is or will become" due. This distinction is important because it extends to debts that are contingent. For example, it allows the judgment creditor to pursue legal claims ("causes of action") that you may have brought against your garnishee to recover the debt.

You may recall the similar proceeding under CPLR § 5225 for a "turnover order" where your judgment creditor seeks to have your garnishee (bank, usually) turn over money owed to you. See that blog here. But § 5227 specifically addresses "debt" and contingent debt—not money already in the possession of the garnishee.

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