• April 22, 2010

As civil litigators who track federal dockets know, a substantial volume of lawsuits are filed every month based on violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  The statute is strictly construed and applied, calls for fee-shifting, and woe to the debt collector who communicates by post-card or otherwise violates the statute’s many rules about impermissible or mandatory acts or communications.

On the other hand, the rules are there for all to see, should pose no problem for any experienced debt collection firm, and, as between debtors and debt collectors who, after all, has the upper hand?  Nevertheless, accidents happen, mistakes are made, debt collectors have to build into their business models some recognition of FDCPA risk, presumably.

Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court made the debt collectors’ work a little bit easier.  (The case was previously discussed here.)

The Minnesota Supreme Court’s syllabus says it all.  Bottom line: it’s rough being a debtor, and not so good to be married to one either.

A judgment creditor may serve a garnishment summons on a garnishee, attaching funds in a joint account to satisfy the debt of an account holder, even though not all of the account holders are judgment debtors.

Account holders bear the burden of establishing net contributions to a joint account during a garnishment proceeding.

A judgment debtor is initially, but rebuttably, presumed to own all of the funds in a joint account, and if the presumption is not rebutted, all of the funds in a joint account are subject to garnishment.

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