How can a creditor serve an SC-134 to a debtor without that debtor's personal address, and how can I track a bankruptcy? 8 Answers as of September 03, 2014

The debtor in a small claims case that was found in my favor over thirty days ago has still not filed an SC-133 or paid me, but she has indicated via e-mail that she will be filing for personal bankruptcy. (She gave me her lawyer's information in that e-mail, but I am unclear as to whether her lawyer would have any obligation to be honest with a creditor or to talk with anyone other than the debtor.) I intend to serve the debtor a SC-134, but I am unclear as to how I can do so without her personal address (I used the business address for the small claims case, but never had her personal one). I also do not know how to look up bankruptcy cases in order to determine whether she has filed or not. I am guessing I have only a small window of time to pursue collection of my claim if she hasn't already filed for bankruptcy. Additionally, the court I have to go through is over hundred miles away from me. Is there a way I can fax forms to and from the court or send documents remotely to the court or to some kind of officer of the law? Any information on how to track her case and how to follow up after a judgment in my favor (keeping in mind that I do not have her address, nor is she easy to track due to her somewhat generic name and the fact that she lives in a huge city) would be much appreciated. Thank you all.

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David R. Fondren, Attorney at Law
David R. Fondren, Attorney at Law | David R. Fondren
First, Every attorney SHOULD be honest with whomever they deal with. But you are correct to want to verify what they say. Human nature after all. You should send a copy of the judgment, your mailing address and a fax number or email address to his attorney. This way they can send notices to you if they do file. They will WANT to fax or email the info to you because they want you to stop your garnishment asap. Second, (to verify) (A) Depending on which district you live, they have a website. Look up the clerk's phone number and call them about getting public info on filings through them. They can also tell you which newspapers in your area print bankruptcy filings. They can further instruct you if they have a satellite office closer to your home. They cannot give legal advice. (B) You can get legal advice from an attorney and they can also check on pacer for any filings and help you through the bankruptcy process. You did not say what the judgment is for. Could it be non-dischargeable? There are pitfalls to avoid too. Third, hire a private investigator to get a home address, employer, banking info and as much info on the defendant to collect your judgment while you wait.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 9/3/2014
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
You can get a PACER account (google it) which will allow you look at bankruptcy filings. I have no idea what you can do about state court filings as those are different in every court. Try looking at the "local rules". Every court has a set. AND if the money you get is significant, you might have to give it back if she files for bankruptcy protection right away. So, FYI.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/28/2014
MatthewR. Schutz, Esq | Matthew R. Schutz
Until such time as the debtor declares bankruptcy proceed with the collection. It is not unheard of for debtors to threaten bankruptcy or even file and not carry though to discharge.
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 8/28/2014
Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
If she's filed for bankruptcy, then any attempt to collect from her could expose you to penalties for violation of the automatic stay. Call her attorney, she/he will confirm that they have been retained to file a bankruptcy and whether they have already filed. This is a routine, all consumer bankruptcy lawyers get several calls a week like this. It's unethical and illegal for a lawyer to lie to you about this. If she files bankruptcy, you'll get a notice from the court, then you can follow the case on the court's website.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 8/28/2014
EDWARD P RUSSELL | EDWARD P RUSSELL
The best thing to do is to write and call her lawyer and request information about the pending bankruptcy. It does seem that the public thinks that lawyers have two horns and a tail but actually most lawyers are forthcoming. Their really is no time limit against you. Your judgment is good for a long period of time and until the bankruptcy is filed is collectible. You could call the bankruptcy court for the federal district in which the debtor lives and ask if the case has been filed.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 8/28/2014
    Tokarska Law Center
    Tokarska Law Center | Kathryn U. Tokarska
    There are a lot of questions here so I believe your best bet is to talk to a creditors bankruptcy attorney interactively. I can answer some of them. You will receive notice of her bankruptcy filing from the court by mail assuming that she lists you as a creditor on her petition. Anyone with internet can access BK filings by visiting www.ecf.gov. You can and should contact the attorney to confirm representation and ask what the anticipated filing date will be. If she has truly retained counsel chances are she is serious about filing and it's not an empty threat. If she is eligible for bankruptcy and will be filing a "no-asset" bankruptcy case shortly (meaning all of her assets can be exempted in bankruptcy) then attempting to collect now could prove a waste of time/money. Whether she is serious about filing a bankruptcy only she knows. As soon as the bankruptcy case is filed collection efforts in state court must stop. You can continue to attempt collections only until the case is filed. If you attempt to collect after case is filed you will be violating automatic stay. You mention this debt is from a small claims action 30 years ago. I'm wondering if your judgment is still good. Judgments in California are good for 10 years and can be renewed before they expire in order to keep them active. Some debts are not dischargeable by their nature, others not dischargeable unless debtor proves undue hardship, and others dischargeable unless proved to fall under an exception to discharge. Whether the debt owed to you falls into one of these categories and what to do about it is something you would want to discuss with an attorney. Getting a judgment can sometimes be the easy part. Collecting on that judgment is a different matter. If the debtor has little to no assets, collection can prove impossible.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/28/2014
    D.J. Rausa, Attorney at Law | D.J. Rausa
    I would wait until you get notice from the bankruptcy court to ascertain the correct address. It is far better to be cautious than to violate the automatic stay.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/28/2014
    Steele, George, Schofield & Ramos, LLP
    Steele, George, Schofield & Ramos, LLP | Alan E. Ramos
    I suggest that you contact the debtor's attorney to confirm that he is her attorney and that she is about to file a bankruptcy petition. Most attorneys (but not all) will speak with creditors. You can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by confirming the information. You should also know that if you successfully collect the money due to you in the 90 days prior to the bankruptcy filing, the trustee could demand the money back. Here is a link to the official site through which you can look confirm a bankruptcy filing by telephone. https://www.pacer.gov/phone_access.html T
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/28/2014
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