I am not a lawyer, I am a Judgment Broker. This article is my opinion, and not legal advice, based on my experience in California, and laws vary in each State. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.
Why start your civil lawsuit unless there will be some chance to collect your eventually won judgment? The process to sue someone that owes you money, and then attempting to recover the judgment money owed you, is usually not easy or cheap. You should maximize your chances for recovery of your judgment, by taking care to learn the real name your debtor(s) correctly before you sue them.
When you start a lawsuit, it is really important to name your defendants property, so your judgment will “attach” to actual people or valid entities. If you sue someone with the wrong, or a misspelled name; either the judgment is worthless, or it opens up a possible defense for the debtor to try to use, to to avoid paying the money that is due for the judgment. You can get in trouble having the Sheriff levy the wrong person’s assets!
When your debtor is a corporate entity, it is very important to name them accurately. Before suing them, check your Secretary of State’s (SOS) website, to see precisely how the corporate entity name is spelled. Make sure to check the punctuation carefully, because even a missing comma can make it more difficult to recover the eventual judgment.
Here are some examples of possible variations in company naming: Cheatum Corporation, Cheatum Company Inc., Cheatum Company, Inc., The Cheatum Corp, Cheatum, LLC, Cheatum Group, LLC, Cheatum LLC, Cheatum Company, Cheatum Corp. If you do not list the company name correctly, you might be left with a judgment that is difficult or impossible to collect.
If your debtor entity name is not found on your SOS’s web site, maybe they are operating fraudulently (at least they are not running their business legally), or perhaps their business is running as a fictitious DBA name; and perhaps you should sue the people responsible instead. Also, companies can fold or change names overnight, so if a person associated with a company defrauded you, consider suing them, in addition to possibly suing that company.
What if you already own a judgment that does not correctly name the actual person or entity that owes you money? Depending on which state and court, you could file an affidavit of identity, or file a motion to amend the judgment. To do this, you need to either hire a lawyer, or learn the rules of your court, and find examples and information about the forms, how to get the current debtor served, file, and pay the court; to amend or make corrections to a judgment, to reflect the actual parties that owe judgment money.
Some jurisdictions put a time limit on making any type of amendments or corrections to a judgment. Some courts also have some specific reasons or requirements to be met, before they will accept an amendment. Look into the rules of procedure for your court to find out what methods can be used to correct judgment naming problems.
You can also check with your local law library, and find resources about this subject, to help you prepare to file a motion for the court. Ask your court what their procedures are, to amend a judgment, however remember they cannot give you legal advice. Stick to questions about the procedures specific to their court.
If you cannot amend your judgment, you may have the option of suing again, and then carefully naming the actual entity that owes you money. However,some judges will not permit this.