After Cameron Jordan* had his car repossessed for nonpayment, he received a notice from the dealership’s attorney. “They told him that they sold the car at an auction and then they sought a judgment against him for the difference,” says Clinic Staff Attorney Chase Haller. For several years, Cameron’s wages were garnished to make up for the money he still owed.
And then, one day, Cameron received a new notice in the mail. It explained that the dealership procured the judgment against him with false evidence. The notice informed him that because of this, he might be able to get the judgment set aside. But without the help of an attorney, nearly $100 was still being taken from every paycheck he received. “There are certain circumstances in which you can have a judgment vacated so it’s no longer in effect, but there’s still an active garnishment,” says Chase. And so, Cameron visited the Clinic for assistance.
Once this case came to the Clinic’s attention however, Chase and his team wondered if the same dealership might have procured judgments against other individuals using false evidence. “Our intern for the summer did a review and found 322 other similar cases,” says Chase. “The total judgments were close to $2 million dollars.”
For all of these individuals, including Cameron, the dealership said they sold the vehicles at auction on some date, when in reality they did not sell the cars at auction and simply invented a fictitious resale value. “When you look at some of the judgment amounts they sought against other people, there are a number of times they sought the exact same amount,” Chase says. “We shared this information with another law firm that had filed a Class Action Lawsuit.”
For all of the people affected by this however, Chase explains that it caused permanent damage to their credit and they likely still had judgments against them. “Even after the attorney said, ‘Hey, we used false evidence in all these cases,’ those people all kept getting garnished because the judgments were still active,” Chase says. “It was basically telling all these people, ‘There’s this massive problem. You may want to check it out.’ But then they’re at the mercy of trying to figure it out, and it’s very confusing.”
Fortunately, because Cameron was able to receive the assistance of the Legal Clinic, he was not alone in trying to navigate this labyrinthine process. “We got the judgment vacated and we got the garnishment order dropped,” Chase says. He then discovered that the court was still holding all of Cameron’s garnishment checks that were issued since they received the notice that the funds were procured with false evidence. In total, they amounted to nearly $1500. “We’re going to try to make sure he gets his money back in full,” says Chase.
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*Client name has been changed