If my debtor lives in another state, do I need a collection lawyer in that state?

This person owes over $l5000 to a busines. They promised to pay over 3 years ago and as yet have not. Can he be taken to court? In what state?

Asked on October 26, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) Can someone be sued if he or she has not repaid a loan, paid an amount due for work or under a contract, or otherwise paid money owed to a business? Yes, though it's important to check the Statute of  Limitations for that state and that cause of action (or basis for a lawsuit). The statute of limitations defines how long someone has to take legal action; once the statutory period has passed, it's too late to sue. The statutory period varies by reason to sue and state you're suing in.

2) You can bring the lawsuit initially in any state where you have jurisdiction. Generally speaking, that will be where the cause of action arose (for example, if A did work for B, then B didn't pay per the agreement, the state where the work was done) or where the defendant lives. If these are different, you may be able to choose the state with the more advantageous statute of limitations.

3) Ultimately, if the person is sued and loses, but then doesn't voluntarily pay the judgment, collections action--e.g. putting a lien on property, levying on a bank account, garnishing wages, etc.--will have to be done where the person has assets and income (e.g. his/her home state). You can sue elsewhere if it would better to do so, then docket the judgment in the person's home state and lock to enforce it there.

4) Your attorney needs to be admitted to whatever state you bring legal action in.


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