After a verdict is returned in a trial, the party that loses may file various motions challenging the verdict. The losing party may, for example, move the court to reconsider its judgment, which generally is to allow the court to correct a manifest error or fact or the losing party to present newly discovered evidence. A losing party may also ask the court for a “judgment notwithstanding the verdict,” which essentially asks that court to admit the findings in the verdict, but find that judgment should be granted on different grounds than those decided by the jury. A party may also move the court for a new trial. A new trial can be requested for multiple reasons, such as an error that was made during the trial, the discovery of new evidence, or to correct an award of damages that is excessive or inadequate.
After exhausting all possible post-trial motions, the successful party (“judgment creditor”) will need to consider how to most efficiently and effectively collect a money judgment from the losing party (“judgment debtor”). Wisconsin law provides a judgment creditor numerous different ways to attempt to collect the amount owed by the judgment debtor. In the event that a judgment creditor is unaware of the assets that a judgment creditor may own, the judgment creditor can conduct a supplemental examination of the judgment debtor. This proceeding provides the judgment creditor an opportunity to determine what assets that judgment debtor owns and may be available to satisfy the judgment.
Once the judgment creditor determines what assets the judgment debtor owns, the judgment creditor can begin to attempt to collect from the judgment debtor. For example, if the judgment debtor is employed or otherwise receives regular payments, the judgment creditor can garnish the payments being made to the judgment debtor. Further, if the judgment debtor owns any property, the judgment creditor can seek a writ of execution, which directs the sheriff to obtain possession of the property. Alternatively, the judgment creditor can file a new lawsuit against the judgment debtor asking the court to sell the property free and clear of all liens that may have attached to the property. In both of these situations, the property is sold and the proceeds will be used to pay off the amount owed to the judgment creditor and any parties with an interest in the property.
Overall,Wisconsin law provides a judgment creditor multiple different ways to collect a money judgment from a judgment debtor. Prior to beginning to collect the amount owed from the judgment debtor, the judgment creditor should carefully consider the cost of each method and the likelihood of recovering the amount owed. All too often, a judgment creditor is faced with spending more money while attempting to collect a debt from an insolvent judgment debtor, which simply costs the judgment creditor more money while recovering nothing from the judgment debtor.