Multiple Plaintiffs

August 12, 2023


After a judgment is finalized, plaintiffs become judgment creditors. In my job, I see the complications of multiple plaintiffs on judgments. Of course, there are at least two advantages to having multiple plaintiffs:

1) To insure that all judgment creditors get the same chance to recover up to the amount owed them for the judgment. An advantage and disadvantage is that all judgment creditors (or their lawyer) need to agree with, and sign, any documents that might lead to recovering money on the judgment. Generally, no judgment creditors get paid, unless there is a plan to pay all creditors.

2) Suing someone (and later trying to recover the judgment against them) is often expensive. When multiple creditors retain the same attorney, on the same case number, and the same judgment debtor; often the individual plaintiffs save a lot of money, sharing the court and legal expenses.

This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer. Some judgments specify what is owed to each plaintiff, for example plaintiff one is owed $80K, and plaintiff two is owed $40K. If the judgment does not specify certain amounts owed to each plaintiff, then it is presumed there is an equal percentage ownership of the judgment by all plaintiffs.

Complications can arise when one or more judgment creditors cannot be found, or do not agree with whatever judgment recovery action the other plaintiff judgment creditor(s) want to attempt. As far as I know, when there is more than one plaintiff on a judgment, all the plaintiffs need to sign judgment-related documents, and sometimes get their signatures notarized. For example, if a judgment recovery attempt is arranged with a collection lawyer or collection agency; or the judgment is assigned to a judgment enforcer, all must sign documents, and all signatures may need to be notarized.

What can you do when one or more of your fellow judgment creditors do not agree with your plan to attempt to sell (always at a sharp discount) or recover the judgment? This might be an impossible situation. You will need to attempt to reason with them, negotiate with them, or bribe them for their cooperation.

What can you do when a judgment creditor was your relative who died, and you are the executor of their estate? You can sign documents as their executor, for example (Executor’s name), Executor for (dead person’s name). It is a good idea to keep copies of the death certificate handy, because one may be required.

What can you do when you cannot locate one or more of the other judgment creditors named in the judgment, and you want an attorney to attempt to recover the judgment? If an attorney is retained and they succeed in recovering some money (to be shared among all plaintiffs); the attorney can retain the non-client’s funds, and then attempt to locate the other creditors. Usually, the lawyer cannot be paid, or take their attorney’s contingency fee, out of the (other creditors) non-client’s share of any recovered funds.

In most states, there is an “unclaimed funds” system set up with the secretary of state. If the other judgment creditors cannot be located, your lawyer may be able to submit the non-client’s funds to the secretary of state’s unclaimed funds system; and then perhaps later attempt to locate the non-client judgment creditors, to let them know the good news.

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