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Old 08-05-2010, 03:08 PM
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professionalmom professionalmom is offline
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Default Went to Court Yesterday

Ok. So I had court yesterday. I know that there has been some discussions on here about what we can actually sue for and win, so I thought I would share my personal experience. I was going to co-pays (DHS client) for the last couple weeks the children were in care, the vacation week that they never paid (50% because I gave 3 weeks notice, even though, per my contract, I only have to give 2 weeks), termination without notice (2 weeks at full rate), and late payment fees. I got pretty much everything. The only thing that was modified by the court were the late payment fees. The judge said that you can recover for late payment fees, up to a point. At some point it becomes punitive (excessive). Instead of $5 per day, I got $25 for each of the weeks that were not paid. So, the late payment fees were slashed quite a lot, but I still recovered at least some of that also. I think someone on this forum once said that we couldn't go after late payment fees. Maybe that was just in her jurisdiction. But, I was able to recover some of it.

Needless to say, I am happy that I will be getting paid, but not happy because of the situation. It was a situation where the family is not from the U.S. and does not speak very good English. So basically, they just did not understand the obligations that they were under when they signed the contract. And it is their responsibility to know and understand what they are signing. Like the judge said, if you do not understand a clause or term in a contract, you don't sign until you get clarification. In other words, they should have had someone translate for them. They also thought that since they had DHS subsidy, that they owed nothing to me, that payment was based on a contract between DHS and me and that they had nothing to do with payment. In MI, the parent IS responsible for the difference between what the provider charges and what DHS pays. The judge was very good at trying to explain to the defendants WHY they owed me. I was very impressed with her. Especially since I had been trying to explain things to them for many, many months. I am sad for them because I know this judgment came as a BIG shock to them.

I still have 2 more cases pending. One of them called a couple days ago, screaming at me for suing her. I tried to explain why and that I had sent her 2 demand letters, which she has ignored. She said she will NOT pay me anything. She wouldn't let me say anything. She just wanted to yell, so I told her that she'll just have to explain it to the judge. Oh, and based on what the judge said at yesterdays hearing, if they don't pay, I can garnish wages AND/OR tax returns. I was shocked at that. But, at least one way or another, I am going to get these people who think they can just skip out on paying their bills and think they can get free childcare at my expense.

To be honest, I hate having to go to court. That's why I send demand letters asking for the principal amount owed and if it is not paid by a certain date, late payment fees will be added to any lawsuit I file. So, if they do not pay, they are, once again, consenting to the late fees being added on. But if they do pay and keep us out of court, I do waive the late payment fees. Sadly, some people think that the demand letters are just bluffs and they think that if they ignore them, the whole bill will just disappear.
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Old 08-05-2010, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by professionalmom View Post
Ok. So I had court yesterday. I know that there has been some discussions on here about what we can actually sue for and win, so I thought I would share my personal experience. I was going to co-pays (DHS client) for the last couple weeks the children were in care, the vacation week that they never paid (50% because I gave 3 weeks notice, even though, per my contract, I only have to give 2 weeks), termination without notice (2 weeks at full rate), and late payment fees. I got pretty much everything. The only thing that was modified by the court were the late payment fees. The judge said that you can recover for late payment fees, up to a point. At some point it becomes punitive (excessive). Instead of $5 per day, I got $25 for each of the weeks that were not paid. So, the late payment fees were slashed quite a lot, but I still recovered at least some of that also. I think someone on this forum once said that we couldn't go after late payment fees. Maybe that was just in her jurisdiction. But, I was able to recover some of it.

Needless to say, I am happy that I will be getting paid, but not happy because of the situation. It was a situation where the family is not from the U.S. and does not speak very good English. So basically, they just did not understand the obligations that they were under when they signed the contract. And it is their responsibility to know and understand what they are signing. Like the judge said, if you do not understand a clause or term in a contract, you don't sign until you get clarification. In other words, they should have had someone translate for them. They also thought that since they had DHS subsidy, that they owed nothing to me, that payment was based on a contract between DHS and me and that they had nothing to do with payment. In MI, the parent IS responsible for the difference between what the provider charges and what DHS pays. The judge was very good at trying to explain to the defendants WHY they owed me. I was very impressed with her. Especially since I had been trying to explain things to them for many, many months. I am sad for them because I know this judgment came as a BIG shock to them.

I still have 2 more cases pending. One of them called a couple days ago, screaming at me for suing her. I tried to explain why and that I had sent her 2 demand letters, which she has ignored. She said she will NOT pay me anything. She wouldn't let me say anything. She just wanted to yell, so I told her that she'll just have to explain it to the judge. Oh, and based on what the judge said at yesterdays hearing, if they don't pay, I can garnish wages AND/OR tax returns. I was shocked at that. But, at least one way or another, I am going to get these people who think they can just skip out on paying their bills and think they can get free childcare at my expense.

To be honest, I hate having to go to court. That's why I send demand letters asking for the principal amount owed and if it is not paid by a certain date, late payment fees will be added to any lawsuit I file. So, if they do not pay, they are, once again, consenting to the late fees being added on. But if they do pay and keep us out of court, I do waive the late payment fees. Sadly, some people think that the demand letters are just bluffs and they think that if they ignore them, the whole bill will just disappear.
I'm not sure how it works where you're at, but in Illinois if you have a judgment you can garnish a bank account, which has always worked better for me because with wage garnishments it normally takes awhile to get all the money because they do it by a percentage rather than all at once, but with a bank account garnishment they grab it all at once if funds are available. It pays to time it though, if you know when they get paid (i.e. when they'll have the most funds in their account), because it's a one time garnishment and you have to do it more than once if the funds aren't there the first time. I was brutal enough once to go after both wages and bank accounts, as well as filing the judgment with the county recorder so they couldn't sell any real property without paying me. By the time I was done they were begging me to pay the amount they owed just to get rid of me.

Good luck to you.
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Old 08-05-2010, 04:36 PM
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oh, and I forgot to tell you ladies, the judge advised me to use "finance charges" in place of late payment charges. I guess that is a way around the late fees becoming "punitive" or excessive. I guess it's something for you ladies to think about. I am out of the biz for the foreseeable future, but that piece of info may be helpful to you.
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Old 08-05-2010, 06:24 PM
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MarinaVanessa MarinaVanessa is offline
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Finance charges hmm? Sounds interesting. I'll have to look into that. Did the judge explain it to you? I'm glad that everything turned out in your favor but it was obvious to me that it would. It is unfortunate that there were issues because of a languagebarrier though so I'm with you on that.

As for the wages being garnished, I am aware of that. Pretty much anybody can do it as long as you win a settlement although I'm not quite clear on how to start the process. I know someone who had a lease on an apartment with her BF and sometime later decided to move out. She found a replacement tenant to pay her share but never got her name removed off of the lease. Well needless to say they got behind two months in rent (her ex-bf pocketed the rent money) and the landlord evicted them and took her and her ex to court. Both her ex and her name were on the lease but he didn't have legit job (he was being paid cash and off the books) so they went after her wages and she has her wages being garnished until it's paid in full. The funny thing is that I told her to have her name removed from the lease but she didn't. So yes ladies if you win the settlement and they don't pay you can have their wages garnished.
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Old 08-05-2010, 06:26 PM
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Glad it's working out for you! A little less stress off your back for now!!
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