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Harry Seaward

Justice court awarded attorneys fees in opposition to arbitration award

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3 years ago I went through AAA arbitration with an OC.  I didn't show up for the hearing and lost by default.  The arbitrator ruled "costs as incurred" in accordance with the AAA rules in place at that time.  The OC threw a fit and sent a scathing request to reconsider.  It was denied, again because the AAA rules said attorneys fees could not be awarded, so the OC was supposed to be stuck paying their own legal costs.  They have never tried to garnish wages or otherwise try to pursue their award (I'd have to file BK if they did), but the other day I was looking at the case on the court website and noticed that when they went back to the court to have the award confirmed, they got the judge to award their fees.  I don't remember this happening, but it was 3 years ago and my memory is not great these days.  I'm sure if I dug through the mound of documents I have from the case I'd find the final judgment from the court awarding their fees.

 

My question is what would I file with the court to have their fees reversed?  And, considering the fact they haven't done anything to pursue this since they got the judgment, should I let sleeping dogs lie?

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@Harry Seaward

 

I think you need to consult with an attorney.   Just because they haven't done anything to date doesn't mean they won't in the future.  What can they do to you if they pursue the matter?  Put a lien on your home? 

 

In regard to whether or not you received notice of their appeal (?) for attorney fees, that might be a he said/she said. 

 

I'd contact the AZ Bar Association to see if they have a lawyer referral service.  In my state, if I get the name of an attorney from that service, the attorney will provide a consultation at a reduced rate.  It could well worth the money.

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If the OP received the judgment ~3 years ago they were likely properly noticed (including any erroneous attorney fees) and it is probably well past the time to argue against those attorney fees. Letting "sleeping dogs lie" might be the appropriate approach in this case FAIK.

 

Judgments can be renewable in Arizona (I'm assuming that AZ is the applicable jurisdiction throughout my comments). That being the case, the judgment creditor often has plenty of time to collect or sell a judgment. A judgment creditor might choose to let their "sleeping dog lie" if the judgment included a post judgment interest rate that was high/attractive or to possibly wait until the debtor's financial situation improved to increase the success of a garnishment or settlement.

 

An item I would want to research would be the differences between a justice court and superior court judgments: http://www.harperlawarizona.com/2013/02/taking-your-justice-court-judgment-to-superior-court.html

I understand that to mean that there are no renewals, no liens and a "mere" 5 year lifespan for AZ justice court judgments if they are not eventually "filed" in superior court.

 

The OP is now in the world of the post-judgment. Things like community property, garnishments, liens, collection-proofness, BK and the like are what I would be focused on.

 

These are just my observations (AZ centric) without having a judgment successfully awarded against me. Others might have more experience and valuable insights.

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This is from Arizona. Sorry for not making that clear.
 
As far as what they can do, I don't own a house. I have a 20 year old pickup truck (<$500 wholesale) and a 6 year old SUV (~$7500 wholesale) that will be paid off next month. My name is on a family trust that I will get paid from realistically within the next 10 years. This trust has been recorded with the county recorder so I'm sure OC's lawyer uncovered it already. Other than that I think the only thing they can do is garnish my and my wife's wages but they never filled a writ of garnishment. Could one successfully argue laches in a case like this?

I seem to remember getting some kind of notification after the judgment that the case was filled with the county recorder. I don't remember if there was anything about the case being filled in Superior Court. Is there a way to look this up somewhere?

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...

Could one successfully argue laches in a case like this?

...

I seem to remember getting some kind of notification after the judgment that the case was filled with the county recorder. I don't remember if there was anything about the case being filled in Superior Court. Is there a way to look this up somewhere?

There is no open claim or litigation that I can see where laches, as an affirmative defense, would apply. The judgment creditor has 5 years to enforce their judgment as well as a possibility of renewing it.

 

AZ case lookup: http://apps.supremecourt.az.gov/publicaccess/

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There is no open claim or litigation that I can see where laches, as an affirmative defense, would apply. The judgment creditor has 5 years to enforce their judgment as well as a possibility of renewing it.

 

AZ case lookup: http://apps.supremecourt.az.gov/publicaccess/

Nothing showed on the Supreme Court link so I looked on the Superior Court website and sure enough, it's there as a "transcript judgment".  So as I understand it, they can now renew it once and extend it to 10 years, correct?

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