Sunday, April 24, 2011

Distress Warrant Result in Kane County

As you may recall, I had posted about our distress warrant months earlier. The one that we executed in DuPage ended poorly. Aside from the tenants filing bankruptcy, I detected a great deal of hostility from the judges in DuPage county. They were clearly taken back by this remedy and didn't really know how to respond to it. One judge who we were discussing the topic with told us that in her many years of serving on the bench she had very rarely dealt with a distress warrant. Of course, this made me nervous because we had executed one in Kane County also. In Kane County, a tenant who owed well over 100K hadn't made so much as a partial payment in over a year. As in DuPage, the Landlord entered the premises, issued the warrant and seized some commercial inventory and equipment.
As a side note I should mention that although I was the one stepping up in court and preparing some of the documents, I was not the attorney of record on these cases. The decision to use this remedy was made solely by one of the attorneys I am working with. So, while it was stressful at times, I was never too worried since I wasn't the one who was gonna take the heat for making these decisions.
The situation in Kane County was exacerbated by the fact that we had a hard time serving the tenant and once we finally served him, he had all kinds of attorney drama. First, he was pro se, and then he had one attorney who got ill and managed to delay the case for about three months. Eventually that attorney withdrew. Once he was pro se again, he never showed up in court. When I went to court last week, I waited until the end of the call because I wanted to give as much time as possible for the tenant to show up. I was worried that the judge was going to be strict given the aggressive nature of the action. Finally, I stepped up and asked for a default against the tenant. The judge looked at the complaint one more time after verifying proof of service and I could tell she was unfamiliar with the subject of distress warrants. She picked up one of her law books and instructed me to hold on for a second. I was nervous that she was gonna try to find some way to deny my request. After a few minutes she closed the book and granted me a default on the tenant and told me to come back for prove up. I was extremely relieved. At the next court date, we will prove up our damages, get a money judgment, and then the sherriff will sell the property to offset the judgment. So, executing and litigating a distress can be done. Nevertheless, as I mentioned before, it is very rare and subject to many dangers. I would still only use this remedy sparingly and in very extreme situations.

No comments: