If you have a valid commercial debt worth pursuing through litigation then your goal is to obtain a judgment against the debtor. Part 1 of our Louisiana Commercial Collections litigation series discussed the steps leading up to judgment ( click here to access Part 1 ). This post will talk about the different kinds of judgments you can obtain, and Part 3 will discuss enforcing those judgments.
There are typically three kinds of judgments you will obtain in a successful Louisiana commercial collections lawsuit.
- Consent Judgment.
- Summary judgment.
- Default Judgment.
Consent judgment simply means the parties come to settlement and request recognition by the court of their agreement. Consent judgments are binding judgments that typically can only be overturned by proving an error of fact or some other factor that should have been considered by the parties but was either withheld or unknown during negotiations.
Summary judgment is usually the next step for plaintiffs that cannot reach a consent judgment agreement with the debtor. As in any litigation, summary judgment may be obtained by proving to the court that no genuine issue of material fact exists in the case, and that you are entitled to a favorable judgment as a matter of law. Courts prefer to wait for discovery to conclude prior to hearing motions for summary judgment, but you can file it at any time after the defendant files their answer. Motion practice to obtain summary judgment usually results in swift resolution of commercial debt lawsuits, and should be secured if possible. In Louisiana summary judgments can be difficult to obtain but they are definitely worth the effort.
Default judgment typically occurs when a debtor fails to file their answer within the prescribed statute of limitations. If sufficient service of process has been performed, the defendant has not filed a formal answer, and there is evidence to establish your claim for the commercial debt collection then the court will issue the default judgment.
Of course, obtaining the judgment is worthless without knowing how to collect it. In Part 3 of this series we will discuss the different ways to enforce your judgment and get paid.
If you have a debtor who refuses to pay, set up a consultation with the Smiley Law Group today to discuss whether a debt collection lawsuit is right for you. Our firm has obtained numerous judgments for our collections clients and enforced those judgments to obtain payment.