Friday Florida Law Update- Read the Fine Print!

TGIF all, and welcome back to the Friday Florida Law Updates portion of the blog!  I’m not gonna lie, about 80% of the fun in this blog is finding a good photo.  Today, we have a case about a poor judgment debtor having his wages garnished.  I punch “garnishment” into the Google image search, and voila!  Look at that beauty above!

Today we look at USAmeribank v. Klepal, 2011 WL 4809107 (Fla. 2d DCA Oct. 12, 2011).  In Klepal, an individual obtained a $43,000 bank loan apparently unsecured by any property.  The promissory note, among what I am sure was about 50 other provisions, included a statement that the borrower consents to the issuance of a continuing writ of garnishment or attachment against my disposable earnings . . . in order to satisfy, in whole or in part, any money judgment entered in favor of the Bank.” 

A writ of garnishment is a tool by which a creditor can obtain a court order requiring a party owing money to the debtor, such as a bank where the debtor holds money or, in this case, the debtor’s employer, to furnish the funds directly to the creditor. 

Sure enough, this $43,000 loan resulted in a $51,000 judgment for the bank after Klepal defaulted.  In its attempt to collect on the judgment, the bank attempted to have a continuing writ of garnishment issued on Klepal’s employer.  At the trial court level, Klepal had the writ dissolved due to the head of family exception to Florida’s garnishment statute, which protects a head of family’s wages from garnishment.  (Florida is a renowned debtor-friendly state). 

On appeal, the Second DCA held that the provision of the note agreeing to a continuing writ of garnishment on Klepal’s disposable earnings constituted a valid and conspicuous waiver of the “head of household” exemption.

The moral, as always, is to READ THE FINE PRINT when signing any significant contract!  


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