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Dominion Voting Machine Defamation Suit Raises Major Judgment Collection Issues

In early 2021, Dominion Voting Systems filed defamation lawsuits in federal court against Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Each defendant is accused of repeated peddling of debunked allegations that Dominion was involved in fraud that delivered the 2020 election to Joe Biden. Each suit seeks $1.3 billion in damages. Regardless of the defendants’ financial success over the years, there is no evidence that any of them have assets even close to that level of worth. Why, then, did Dominion sue for such a large amount, and how do they expect to collect on their judgment?

The damages sought in a defamation case do not depend on the defendant’s ability to pay. Instead, Dominion seeks compensatory damages based on its calculations of the harm to its business. Dominion also seeks punitive damages, arguing that the defendants’ conduct was egregious, malicious and fraudulent. So, in addition to seeking redress, Dominion’s lawsuit is a statement about how these defendants’ destructive post-election actions should be punished.

If Dominion eventually wins one or more of these cases, it will become a judgment creditor and each losing defendant will become a judgment debtor. When a damage award greatly exceeds the value of the judgment debtor’s assets, the judgment creditor may have to undertake time-consuming and expensive measures to collect as much of the award as possible. These are some of the realities to consider:

  • Executing on a judgment may require extensive asset searches. With a financially sophisticated debtor, the investigation may include identifying offshore accounts, shell corporations, special purpose companies, real estate, trusts and other places where assets may be hidden.
  • Debtors may attempt fraudulent transfers to protect their wealth. A debtor may put assets in the hands of family members, friends and private companies so the debtor appears to own minimal assets. The creditor can use claw-back provisions in laws like the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act to avoid such transfers.
  • When a judgment is particularly large, creditors must worry that the debtor may file bankruptcy to seek a discharge. Creditors should be prepared to bring lawsuits known as adversary proceedings during the debtor’s bankruptcy to protect their claims.

Enforcing judgments can prove just as difficult as obtaining them in the first place. Creditors need a legal team experienced in complex litigation, asset investigations and collection practices. Schwartz Law Group, LLC is that kind of law firm. Our Chicago attorneys help creditors enforce their judgments, even where the debtor hides assets. Call 312-436-1442 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer today.

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