Can I still serve the debtor with the pattern interrogatories without any legal ramifications to myself? 23 Answers as of October 09, 2013

I went to small claims court Friday and was awarded a judgment against the debtor. The debtor did not go to court. The judge instructed me to serve the debtor with pattern interrogatories. The next day I received Chapter 7 Bankruptcy form that the debtor had filed.

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Law Office of William Stoddard | William Stoddard
No the bankruptcy filing stopped any other proceedings until the court renders a decision, which could be a discharge of his owing you anything.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 10/9/2013
Steele, George, Schofield & Ramos, LLP
Steele, George, Schofield & Ramos, LLP | Alan E. Ramos
If you continue any action in your case against the debtor, you will be in violation of the automatic stay. Sanctions for violation of the stay could include fines. You should consult an attorney before taking any action against the debtor. This answer was provided as a public service to a question posed on the Law Q & A website. The answer is based on the information provided and is limited to those facts. Furthermore, the answer is based on California law and their application to bankruptcy law in California. Additional information could change the context of the question and materially change the answer.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/8/2013
Law Office of Raymond I. Moniak | Raymond Moniak
No. Once a Debtor files for bankruptcy any attempt to continue collection action against the Debtor outside of the Bankruptcy Court is prohibited, including service of any interrogatories or other discovery. If you did you would violate the Bankruptcy law and court order placing a stay on collection which could subject you to penalty. You need to inform the Small Claims Court of the bankruptcy stay and filing.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/8/2013
Elkington Law
Elkington Law | Sally Elkington
You may not continue your lawsuit in any manner without permission from the bankruptcy court. If you want to see if your judgment is non-dischargeable you should see an attorney immediately as you may be time barred if you wait too long.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/8/2013
Mary Saur Cohn PLLC | Mary Saur Cohn
You cannot do anything further to collect this debt. Any further action on your part is a violation of the automatic stay. If you violate the stay, you are in contempt of court and can be sanctioned. Unless you have some cause to have the debt declared non-dischargeable, this debt will also be discharged. You don't have any special status just because you have a judgment. With limited exceptions, most debts are dischargeable. You are probably out of luck trying to collect this debt. The exceptions to discharge are in 11 USC 523.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/8/2013
    Tokarska Law Center
    Tokarska Law Center | Kathryn U. Tokarska
    Serving the interrogatories will violate automatic stay order. All collections efforts including: demands for payment, lawsuits, garnishments, bank levy need to be stayed. Without knowing what this debt is about and what type of bankruptcy the debtor filed it is difficult to say much more. Generally speaking, if this is chapter 7 case and the debt is of type that is normally dischargeable however there has been some wrong conduct (fraud, misrepresentation, conversion of non-dischargeable debt into dischargeable debt, breach of fiduciary duty) then a creditor has a right to file a lawsuit in bankruptcy court to determine whether the debt is or is not dischargeable. If the debtor failed to disclose assets in the petition or gave away property prior to filing for bankruptcy with the intent to hinder their creditors, the Trustee assigned to the case will be interested in that information. Some debt are simply not dischargeable (like child support, injury caused by DUI, student loans) and for these the creditor doesn't have to do anything and they can pursue the debtor after the bankruptcy case closes, in order words collections is stayed temporarily. If debtor filed a chapter 7 WITH assets or a chapter 13, then a creditor should file a proof of claim so they can get a piece of the assets. If it's a chapter 7 no asset case, the debtor is a good faith debtor and qualifies for a discharge, the debt owed to you is of type that is dischargeable, there has been no bad conduct (not being able to pay your debts on its own doesn't qualify as bad conduct, you need something more) then I'm afraid you won't be able to recover anything. I am only guessing here but I have a feeling that maybe it's this lawsuit you filed combined with other debts that compelled this person to file bankruptcy. Of course as a creditor, read the notice you received, you have a right to attend the 341 hearing and ask debtor questions about the extent of his/her assets. You are not allowed however to conduct discovery in this meeting. Caveat: Answers to questions online cannot replace actual legal advice or being represented by a lawyer in your case. There may be other undisclosed facts that could impact your results. A legal consultation with an attorney would involve a full disclosure of facts that can impact your outcome.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/8/2013
    Paul Stuber, Attorney at Law
    Paul Stuber, Attorney at Law | Paul Stuber
    No, you must deal with it in the bankruptcy court until the discharge and then not at all.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/8/2013
    Law Offices of David A. Tilem | Michael Avanesian
    No. You also should consider a bk attorney to see if you should do other things to preserve your rights.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/8/2013
    Deborah F Bowinski, Attorney & Counselor at Law | Debby Bowinski
    No. If you take any action at all to try to collect the debt or enforce your judgment you will be violating the Automatic Stay which is a federal court order. You do not want to do that.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/8/2013
    Hayward, Parker, O'Leary & Pinsky, Esqs.
    Hayward, Parker, O'Leary & Pinsky, Esqs. | Michael O'Leary
    The automatic stay created by the debtor's bankruptcy filing precludes virtually all post-filing collection activity, including (probably) yours. Unless you are using Small Claims Court as a means to collect past due alimony or child support, you should not pursue any further State Court collection remedies. If you feel that the underlying debt is founded in fraud, you should consult with competent, local bankruptcy counsel to see if you have grounds to litigate in Bankruptcy Court over whether or not your debt is dischargeable.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/8/2013
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    No. You may not do that. Bankruptcy filing creates an "automatic stay" which is described in the notice you received. If for some reson you think your debt is not dichargeable I suggest you see a lawyer. You can look up 11 U.S.C.Section 523 on the net to get a list of nondischargeable debts.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/8/2013
    Gottlieb & Goren, P.C.
    Gottlieb & Goren, P.C. | Aaron W. Goren
    No, you will be in violation of a bankruptcy court order that "stays" all action to collect the judgment. You may attend the First Meeting of Creditors" in bankruptcy court to ask the debtor your questions.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/8/2013
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
    NO bankruptcy filing trumps your action and causes an automatic stay .. if you pursue your action you may be liable for damages and be in contempt of court (fines and jail)
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/7/2013
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    No, you can not continue with your action during the bankruptcy. And if he is discharged then your debt will be wiped out
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/7/2013
    The Troglin Firm | William M. Troglin
    NO NO NO NO, the debtor in bankruptcy is protected by the automatic stay and a creditor cannot do anything to collect a debt without permission of the Bankruptcy Court.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 10/7/2013
    Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC | Daniel A. Edelman
    No, the state action is stayed. File a suggestion of bankruptcy with the information supplied.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 10/7/2013
    Mark S Cherry, Attorney at Law, PC
    Mark S Cherry, Attorney at Law, PC | Mark Cherry
    You cannot continue with the collection action at State level as you would be violating the "Stay Provisions" of the bankruptcy code.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/7/2013
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C.
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C. | Stuart M. Nachbar
    No you can not. You need to make a motion to vacate stay or just handle through the BK
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/7/2013
    Victor Varga | Victor Varga
    As you received the notice of bankruptcy, that means that you were listed as a creditor. Therefore, you cannot take any action until the debtor?s bankruptcy case has been concluded. There is a chance that it will be dismissed, at which time you can resume collection efforts, but not until then. If you receive notice that the debts have been discharged, then you are out of luck/cannot collect..
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 10/7/2013
    Law Office of Barry R. Levine | Barry R. Levine, Esq.
    No. Not without getting relief from the automatic stay which, given what you've said, would be unlikely.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/7/2013
    Law Offices of Linda Rose Fessler | Linda Fessler
    No you definitely cannot serve him with anything.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/7/2013
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    Once a debtor files bankruptcy, you are prohibited from pursuing any collection efforts. Asking questions about the debtor's finances would be considered a form of a collection efforts which would be barred. All the information you probably were looking for would be in the bankruptcy petition in any event. So stop trying to collect or you risk facing several penalties from a federal court judge.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 10/7/2013
    Marc S. Stern
    Marc S. Stern | Marc S. Stern
    No, and you need to go back and vacate the default judgment. It is void as a matter of law and you can get into real trouble if you do not vacate it. You certainly cannot do anything else with it at this point. It is included in the bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/7/2013
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