Even Stars Fall When Judgments Come Down
Civil court is a curious beast. It doesn’t tend to differentiate between groups of people the same way criminal law does. Just about anyone can find themself facing civil litigation for seemingly minor things like not paying a bill. But what is minor to a defendant is often major to the plaintiff. And because civil law does not play favorites, even stars fall when judgments come down.
A recent case in point is a California judgment entered against one of the stars of Real Housewives of Orange County (RHOC). Cast member Noella Bergener was sued by a creditor for a debt she claims to have assumed was her ex-husband’s responsibility. The court disagreed. She is now on the hook for nearly $500,000. Being a star will not excuse her from California law.
What Happens Next
Assuming the debt is still outstanding, Judgment Collectors says the two parties will probably work through a standard set of steps to get things taken care of. While Judgment Collectors is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, the agency serves clients in California.
In all likelihood, the creditor and Ms. Bergener (or her attorney) will get together and discuss her assets. If she doesn’t have the means to pay the debt in full, a payment plan could be arranged. How it all works out depends on the agreement the two parties reach during their negotiations.
At this point, it is important to note that the court will not get involved in enforcement. That is left to the two parties, initially. There is room to get the court involved later if Bergener attempts to avoid payment for an extended length of time.
Wage and Bank Garnishment
Should it become necessary, California law allows a creditor to utilize wage and bank account garnishment. In a wage garnishment scenario, the creditor serves the debtor’s employer with a notice of garnishment. The employer is required by law to withhold a certain amount of money from the debtor’s paycheck and forward it to the creditor for payment.
Bank account garnishment works in a similar manner. Funds in a bank account can be garnished by serving the institution that holds the account. Any garnished funds must be turned over to the creditor.
Wage and bank account garnishment are frequently utilized against debtors working under a traditional employment arrangement. But given the nature of the entertainment business, it is quite likely that Bergener’s work arrangement is more like contract work than standard employment. It might not be possible to garnish her wages.
Another tool allowed by California law is asset seizure. This is to say that certain kinds of assets can be seized by the creditor and sold to pay the debt. The creditor would not actually perform the physical act of seizure; that would be left to the county sheriff.
Since we know nothing of Bergener’s situation, let us talk about a hypothetical debtor with an expensive car collection. Those cars would probably be considered tangible assets above beyond basic necessity. They could be seized and sold at auction.
Other Collection Methods
Judgment Collectors assures clients in California that there are many other methods for securing payment. Garnishment and asset seizure are but two of the options. Being a Hollywood star will not prevent a skilled judgment collection agency from utilizing the most effective strategies against Bergener should she decide to avoid payment.
That is the thing about civil law. It takes no prisoners. Even the rich and famous are subject to its rulings. And when they are on the losing end, they are expected to pay just like anyone else.