New Attorney General Opinion Requires Advance Payment of Garnishment Fees

I get asked all the time: “After I’ve exhausted all the leads I have and still can’t find assets, what do I do to collect?” My typical response has always been to try a random bank levy.

A bank levy is a form of execution, issued through the clerk’s office, that directs a bank to freeze a judgment debtor’s bank account and send the funds, if any, to the judgment creditor. Obviously, it works best when you know where your debtor banks. Otherwise, you’re blindly asking banks if they have any money of the debtor and, depending on how many banks are in your area, that’s a lot of dead ends.

But, if you’re out of good leads, my reasoning has always been “What’s the harm?

That was before Tennessee Attorney General Opinion No. 10-100, issued on September 27, 2010, changed the procedure on garnishments under Tenn. Code Ann. 8-21-401.

Under the old practices, you didn’t pay garnishment costs up-front; you only paid when your garnishment was successful. So, there was no disincentive from issuing as many garnishments as you wanted. Under this new opinion, the Clerk collects the $25 fee in advance.

This new opinion changes the strategy on blind garnishments, at least from a cost/benefit perspective.

The lesson? When your customer starts having payment problems, just keep a copy of an old check.

Author: David

I am a creditors rights and commercial litigation attorney in Nashville, Tennessee.

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