Our client contacted us about a lien on her property dating back from a default judgment that was obtained against her in 2012. Unifund CCR LLC, a common debt buyer had sued her in upstate New York although she had not lived at that address for at least half of a decade. Mullooly, Jeffrey, Rooney, & Flynn a debt collection law firm that we defend against often represented Unifund and were the firm that were able to obtain a default judgment for about $23,000. As judgment interest accrued and attorney’s fees and Marshal’s fees were added, the total balance ballooned up to over $30,000. MJRF then obtained a lien against our client’s property without her even discovering it. She only found out about the lien because she was attempting to refinance her home and was denied because of the lien on the property.
Although a lien on a consumer’s property happens less often than a bank levy or wage garnishment, it is one of the many judgment enforcement tactics that debt collection law firms like MJRF pursue. A lien is a major problem for anyone attempting to sell their home or attempt to re-finance their mortgage. Not only will a lien prevent these from happening but with judgment interest accruing at 9%, the amount of the lien can quickly accumulate and the sale of the home can potentially be forced once the amount reaches a certain level. In this case, our client was never served because she did not even live in the county that she was served in. This lack of personal jurisdiction is enough to not only vacate the judgment but also have the case dismissed without prejudice to force the collection firm to re-file properly. Having the judgment vacated was a key factor in this case so that our client would be able to re-finance her home without any red flags appearing. Instead, of costly litigation, we were also able to negotiate an out of court settlement for 30% of the balance or a 70% reduction.