Thursday, April 27, 2017

Attacking a void judgment has no time limits.

Statutes of limitations prevent successful lawsuits that are too old. For example, a lawsuit for money damages filed more than three years after a car accident is too late because the statute of limitations.

But lawsuits don't always demand money damages. Claims can be made for injunctive relief (asking the court to stop something from happening) or for declaratory relief (asking the court to determine a legal obligation). These non-money damage claims are not restricted by statutes of limitations.

The distinction is very important where you are attacking the validity of an old judgment entered against you. It may be that you were not properly served, that your identity was hacked, or that the process of taking a judgment against you was somehow improper or unfair. It may be years before you discover the existence of the judgment on your credit report, or perhaps when you move to a new job.

The recent case of Murray v. Midland Funding makes clear that your demand for a declaration that an old judgment is void or unenforceable is not subject to a three year limitation- it can be brought at any time. In language cited by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals,
although it is not necessary to take any steps to have a void judgment reversed or vacated, it is open to attack or impeachment in any proceeding, direct or collateral, and at any time or place, at least where the invalidity appears upon the face of the record.
But if you want money damages for the judgment creditor's wrongful conduct in taking the judgment in the first place, you will have to deal with the statute of limitations. It is entirely possible that your claim for money damages will be too late, but you may still prevail on a declaration that the judgment is void and not enforceable.

It is always worth the time and effort to attack an old judgment wrongly taken.