Los Angeles, with all its diversity, is an interesting city for many of the same reasons that big cities are- but perhaps the most unique part of it is Hollywood. And, enforcement of judgment in Hollywood- even more interesting still- so interesting in fact, that it warrants its own article, in my opinion.
Now, Collection Law is the same in Los Angeles and Hollywood as it is in the less glitzy and glamorous parts of the State. But, we enforce judgements against people- and ultimately therefore, judgement enforcement is about people. And let’s face it- the people here- Hollywood in particular- are just not the same as people anywhere else, and a Collection Lawyer in Los Angeles should be able to capitalize on this knowledge, to his the benefit of his clients.
When it comes to Hollywood and the movie industry in general, there are a few things that should always be remembered:
(1) Nobody can hide what they are doing, it’s all over the internet.
One of the tricky parts of judgment collection is finding out where debtors get income from. Many debtors, knowing there is a judgment out there against them- would never brag about their place of employment on Facebook, or LinkedIn. Unfortunately, for debtors trying to evade their creditors in Hollywood, there are multiple sites – IMDB.COM being probably the biggest one- where one can find out what just about anyone who is anyone in Hollywood is up to, with a few mouse clicks. And that is how they want it to be, if they are a Hollywood debtor– they ned the publicity. The first thing I always do when I have a Hollywood Debtor is look them up on IMDB and see what they have going on, so I know where to go after the money. There are multiple other sources also (Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood Insider).
(2) Reputation is everything in Hollywood.
Many judgment debtors are die-hard debt-evaders, and can take a fair amount of legal pressure– and some are smart, and make a game out of staying a step ahead of Creditors. Regardless of your debtors particular character thowever, every debtor in Hollywood has one serious weak spot– and that is his or her need to be perceived well by others- In Hollywood, reputation is everything.
In one case, I asked a debtor, who had already had his car repossessed and who was on the verge of his foreclosure sale– a very honest question “Rather than go through this, why don’t you just do bankrupt and be done with it?” His Answer: “Because if I did that, I’d never work in this town again.”
A savvy collection lawyer can take advantage of this situation by seeking financial discovery from third parties, such as partners and colleagues of the debtor. As a general practice, this can be expensive and troublesome, so is often considered not worth it. However, for debtors whose reputations are important to them, the mere hint of having business partners and colleagues as part of the legal proceedings can be an incentive in and of itself, to start paying the debt.
(3) Even if they seem broke, People in Hollywood have access to money that most others do not.
Hundreds of millions (perhaps even billions) of dollars per year flow through Hollywood, and a large part of that is venture capital money- money that is just thrown out there by investors, to fund movies and television. Many people in Hollywood, even if they themselves appear to be flat broke- can often come up with money in ways that most other debtors could only dream of.
In one case, I had a debtor – an actor/producer who was down on his luck and looking all but judgment proof, come up with over $200,000.00 in cash to satisfy a judgment, after we went after him. Discovery into his affairs and his lifestyle made it quite clear– he did not have the money himself — but he obtained funding from somewhere as part of a deal, and paid us off, when we applied the right pressure. The debtor with the repossession and the foreclosure, who was worried about “never working in this town again” – after we got after him, he somehow paid also.
Ultimately, Los Angeles and Hollywood are places all their own, and the industries in these places make Judgment Collection in Los Angeles and Hollywood, especially in the movie business, a unique area of expertise. Everyone in these industries, from writers, actors, producers, to sound engineers, set-builders, and casting directors- each has their own place in the big picture, and each receives money in certain ways, and should be enforced against in certain ways.
The two most important principles that will serve anyone well against Hollywood debtors are: (1) Reputation is everything; and (2) If the he really really tries, he can probably come up with the money to pay you something (within reason- obviously this isn’t true all the time).
Richard Evanns, founder of The Evanns Collection Firm was born and raised in Hollywood, and our law firm has handled multiple matters involving debtors in Hollywood and related industries. If you have such a collection judgment / enforcement matter, we would be happy to talk to with you about it. Phone consultations are free of course.