We don’t have to be reminded that businesses close all the time. There is no question that every day businesses open, tank, and disappear. In the commercial collection business, an “uncollectible judgment” is as common as a side of fries with a cheeseburger, rain after you’ve washed your car, or Luke Skywalker whining. But sometimes, the business isn’t just going down the tubes, but the principals are attempting to obfuscate the truth, and retain their evil Empire, while not paying their bills.
We were forwarded a judgment against a company which I will refer to as “The Empire, Inc.”, that owned and ran a chain of retail stores, “Empire Shops.”
Our client, the Ewok Trading Post sold goods to Empire Shops, and Empire Shops didn’t pay. So the Ewoks retained an attorney to sue and obtain the judgment against The Empire, Inc. When they dispatched the Sheriff to one of the Empire Shops, the store manager, Moff Tarkin, told the Sheriff that they were no longer owned by The Empire, Inc. The Sheriff closed the file as (you guessed it) out of business. The attorney for the Ewoks closed their file, but the tenacious Ewoks did not want to accept defeat, so they retained me to see what else I could do.
I sent a post-judgment subpoena to The Empire, Inc. They suddenly retained an attorney who, after several postponements, produced the alleged Vice-President of The Empire, Inc, Darth Vader. In the deposition, Darth Vader testified The Empire, Inc., was out of business, and sold all their assets to someone named Count Dooku, who was Darth Vader’s “friend”. Darth further testified that Dooku opened up a new company to run Empire Shops, but Darth further stated that Dooku sold the entity, so Dooku was no longer running the company that owned and operated Empire Shops.
I asked him what the name of the company was, and Darth couldn’t remember. I asked who bought the company from Dooku, and he explained that it was his father, Emperor Palpatine. I asked Darth Vader if he had any documentation, and to my surprise, as well as his attorney, he had a whole host of documents. I quickly speed-read them and noticed that Emperor Palpatine did purchase the company that Dooku opened to run Empire Stores. The name of the new company? “Eepee Inc.” (For those who enjoy having everything spelled out for them, well, it was… That was the Emperor’s initials.) I further examined the documents, and found that Eepee Inc., was also out of business. It was dissolved, and all of the assets were transferred to another entity, “Deevee, Inc.” (Yep, spelled out again.)
So, I asked Darth Vader:
“Do you know who owns Deevee, Inc.?
He turned red (I could tell, even if he was wearing a mask, since the force is strong with me).
“I can’t be sure. I don’t know who the owners are.” Darth replied.
“Ok then. Are YOU an owner?” I asked.
“What do you mean by owner?” Darth responded.
“I mean, do you own any shares or have any stakes in Deevee, Inc?”
“I am not sure, but I think I do.”
“I don’t know.”
“More than 1?”
“More than 10?”
“More than 100?”
“Do you mean percent or number of shares?” Darth asked.
“You own 100 percent of the shares?”
“Um, yes I think I do.”
It was apparent that the Evil Empire was just playing games and trying to defraud their creditors. I quickly brought a Motion to add many more additional parties including but not limited to, Emperor Palpatine personally, Darth Vader personally, Count Dooku personally, Eepee Inc., and Deevee, Inc.
Before you can go to Toshii station to pick up power converters, I received a call from a new attorney for the Judgment Debtor, who tendered an offer to settle the entire case. After some negotiation, the Ewoks agreed to an installment payment arrangement.
Good triumphed over evil, again.
Timothy Wan is a partner in the firm Smith Carroad Levy & Wan, in Commack, New York, and can be reached at email@example.com. Tim is the droid… er, lawyer you’re looking for.