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Old judgments recently discharged in Chapter 7 BK


turtlegal
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I'm sorry if this is super long. It's been a nightmare for us. We have two large (to us) civil judgments in UTAH, that comprise primarily medical bills and other small items. The two together total just over $14,500. The case was brought by a credit agenecy in Utah that serviced the accounts. They dealt with medical bills mostly, resulting from an accident. We disputed many of those charges and refused to pay because of improper care. We tried to file a malpractice suit, and we were told by multiple firms that we absolutely had a case, but the cost involved would be far too much for the likely settlement we'd receive. We tried until the statue for filing ran out, but never found anyone willin gto take the case that we could afford. The collection agency and their clients were not terribly happy with us so they filed the two cases against us.

 

When the complaints were filed by the collection agency, we decided to file for bankruptcy to protect what few assets we had. At the time, we had to file for a Chapter 13, and intended to convert to a 7 in the future. Our bankruptcy attorney, well... was a big idiot. We really got burned. The attorney was aware of the pending civil complaints and advised us not to worry about them since we were covered by the automatic stay. This attorney said that she would take care of it and get the cases tossed for us. We naively beleived her and didn't bother to show up in court at her direction. Well, she didn't do anything. Even though the collection agency was aware that we'd filed, they quietly allowed the judge to enter a deault judgment, about a week after we filed for BK. The collection agency actually sent the sherrif to our home, on two different occasions, trying to seize certain assets. Again, they KNEW we'd filed, but but because it was so soon after we filed, they were able to pretend ignorance of the BK filing. Again, Ms. Attorney said she'd take care of it... she didn't do anything. Back then, we weren't as aware of how things worked and didn't realize we could have had those judgments cleared right up. Well, we know a lot better now.

 

Obviously, the collection agency never received a dime. We ended up moving out of state, and a job my husband had lined up didn't pan out, so we found ourselves unable to make our plan payments. Our attorney said she'd petition the court to convert to a 7 because by then we were eligible to do so. Well... you guessed it. She dropped the ball on that, too. Lots of nonsense happened, and the BK ended up being dismissed, so all those debts were still there. Thing is, because it had been a while and because we were in another state, for some reason the collection agency didn't follow-up on trying to collect on the judgements. We just decided we didn't need to go stirring up any pots.

 

It's been about 14 years since the judgments were entered. The collection agency is still in business. They did NOT renew the judgements, which, frankly kind of shocked us, but we think it's because they knew if they tried they would get tossed out, since they were rendered when an automatic stay was in place.

 

The judgments had long fallen off our credit reports and we'd almost forgotten about them, until they showed up on a background check for me. It caused some issues and I ended up being passed over for a job because of it, even though the judgments were completly unenforcable at that point, the investigators said it was still a huge issue for them because the case was still listed as being open... and open civil lawsuits are not good if you're trying to pass a background check to work with a government contractor.

Now, for other, somewhat unrelated reasons we had to file for bankruptcy again earlier this year. It was also medical related.. in fact, related to the same accident 15 years ago. My husband is now permanently disabled. We included all of the debts from the prior dismissed case, including the judgements. Now, we know the judgements were no longer enfroceable, if they were legal to begin with. We verified with the court that niether judgment was renewed. The clerk I spoke with even commented that it was odd, because *that* particular collection agency usually always renews. They are very agressive.

 

So this time, we filed Chapter 7, Pro Se. Given our last BK attorney experience we were concerned about being burned again and I wanted to do it right and be fully aware of each step in the process, so I studied hard and did it on my own. At our 341 hearing, the trustee actually commplimented us and asked three times if we paid anyone to prepare our file, as if he didn't beliive us. Nope, I did it on my own. So, we received the discharge this month and the case is now closed.

 

So... now my question is this... Do we now go back to Utah and petition to have those judgments vacated or do we just let it be? The court was notified of the bankruptcy as well as the collection agency. Will the court close the case if we do nothing or do we need to petition it somehow? Ideally, I'd want them to be completely removed as if they never existed since they never should have been rendered against us to begin with. But at this point... anything that will indicate that we are not liable for those debts would be good. That way, if I have another background check come up that goes that deep, they will see that I did, indeed handle it.

 

Obviously the collection agency has no leg to stand on here. Even if we did get them vacated, they now could not try to come after us again since the debts have now been discharged. In our Chap 7 case, we listed the judgments as well as each individual creditor that made up the judgments. For example, one of the judgments was a combinations of a hospital bills, and 6 different doctor bills all serviced by the C.A. - that way, everyone was covered, even though  they were no longer enforceable.

 

Now, if we do go back to the Court in Utah, is this something I can write up on my own or should I have an attorney in Utah handle it for me?

 

Thanks for reading my little novel.

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Right... the debt itself is of no consequence anymore, but last I contacted the court, the cases were still open...and that only causes an issue when people do an extended background check, as I unfortunately discovered recently. And, the kicker here is tha teven hough my works involves being fingerprinted with state and FBI criminal clearances, the background checks are being done yearly in some sectors and are going deeper than just criminal. They are reviewing 15-20 years back of criminal and financial.. scouring state records for opne civil cases, too. Hence, the dilemma. Cases that are closed or otherwise settled don't really matter, unless there are tons and tons of them that show a pattern.

 

For now, I'm going to wait a week or two and then call the court again and check on the status. The court, as well as the collection agency were on the mailing matrix and I know the discharge notice was mailed out, as we got ours last week. BUT... I'm really not sure if they will just notate the case recrd or if it will be enough to close or vacate it.

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