Legal Question in Business Law in California

Attempting to collect 18k judgment from a cancelled LLC . Sheriff subpoena the officer for process (an attorney), The attorney failed to appear Judge ordered a bench warrant and added the attorney on the judgment. I didn't request it .

Previously i had llc bank account levied. Account was 15% of judgment.Nobody is responding to previous hearings and According to the Sec of state there is only one member on the llc board Beside the process officer. Question?

!. should ca state bar be notified of attorneys conduct? Am i allowed to seize assets on attorney since judge added him on judgment?

2.should i continue to seiz whatever assets i find for this llc. I found the llc address has many many other llc tied to the same address?

3. Should i request the court to add the owner of llc. as i predict there are no listed llc assets and will eventually hit the corp wall.

Thanks for your time

Asked on 8/04/13, 8:27 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

I feel that your question may reflect some misunderstandings of the law and facts, or otherwise may be incomplete, and therefore I can't give you a full and final answer to the three questions. Seeing no other answers so far, I thought it might possibly be useful to point out some areas where your facts seem to raise additional questions for an attorney trying to figure the situation out and provide helpful advice.

First, have you been represented by legal counsel in this case? Seems to me that you've done a pretty good job of representing yourself so far, winning a lawsuit, levying on a bank account, arranging subpoenas, etc.

Next, I'm surprised to see a judge "adding an attorney to a judgment," especially without a motion from the plaintiff. This might be proper to correct a written judgment that erroneously omitted a losing defendant from the writing (under Code of Civil Procedure section 473) if the person being added had been sued and found liable in court, but when the party is only an agent for the service of process, I'd have many questions about how this could happen.

Next, an agent for the service of process is not an officer of the LLC as a result of being its agent (although oftentimes an officer will serve in the dual capacity of agent), and agents for the service of process can resign at any time. See Corporations Code section 17061.

It isn't unusual for an LLC to have but a single member. In fact, that's probably the most common number.

The fact that there are other LLCs located at the same address as the defendant LLC doesn't give you any right to go after the assets of the other LLCs. This would be true even if all of these other LLCs had the same individual as their sole member......which isn't necessarily the case.......the other LLCs may be totally independent and have nothing whatsoever to do with your defendant LLC other than renting space in the same office building.

So, as to Question #1: If indeed the attorney who was agent for service of process has been lawfully added to the judgment, and is not responding to you in any way, you should bring this to the attention of the State Bar of California. However, at this point I'm very unconvinced that this attorney was properly added as a judgment debtor. I'd be willing to go on line to look at the court records (if available) if you will furnish me the county and case number, and perhaps the full name of at least one named party. The detail available on line varies substantially from county to county, so there's no certainty as to how much I'll be able to see. Also, if the case were in a large county (L.A., for example), which branch courthouse?

As to Question #2, you can (at most) only seize assets of the losing defendants named in the judgment; certainly not property of other LLCs irrespective of ownership or control.

As to Question #3, adding the owner of the LLC could certainly be helpful, but you'll need a legal basis upon which to ask the court to do this. We don't just add liable parties willy-nilly to judgments. Parties are entitled to participate in the lawsuit and defend themselves, and the owner of a properly-run LLC has a defense against the LLC's creditors. Sometimes this defense can be overcome (e.g., by "alter ego" a/k/a "piercing the corporate [or LLC] veil"), but this is difficult and more often than not doesn't work.

Finally, you didn't mention how many parties were named as defendants in the lawsuit, nor whether you got a default judgment or judgment after trial. Knowing such information would be helpful in giving you a clearer answer.

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Answered on 8/04/13, 10:29 am

Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

I disagree somewhat with Mr. Whipple.

The California State Bar imposes discipline on licensed attorneys in this state when they fail to follow the ethical rules set forth in the California Rules of Professional Conduct or rules set forth in the State Bar Act. They are not a forum for handling civil matters. This attorney is not your attorney, and owes you no duty of care as your attorney. His or her failure to show up to a judgment debtor exam may or may not be civilly correct. If the judgment has been amended to include the attorney as a judgment debtor, then you may engage in collection activities against that attorney.

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Answered on 8/13/13, 10:15 am

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