Litigation

How a Judgment Becomes a Lien

By: J. Matthew Kelly, Esq.
Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A.

At the end of a lawsuit, the prevailing party often ends up with a final judgment awarding it some monetary amount from the losing party. This amount can include amounts for damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.

In many cases, obtaining the judgment is only the first step in recovering any money awarded. Collecting on a judgment can sometimes be more intensive than actually getting the judgment awarded by the court.

While there are many active ways to attempt to collect on a judgment such as garnishing wages and bank accounts, judgment creditors can also use their judgment to create a lien on the judgment debtor’s real and personal property.

Real Property

Real property is land and the buildings which occupy the land. A judgment can become a lien on the judgment debtor’s real property. In order for a judgment to become a judgment lien on a judgment debtor’s real property, a certified copy of the judgment must be recorded in the official records of the county where the judgment debtor owns real property. Additionally, the judgment itself must contain the address of the individual who possess the lien as a result of the judgment or an affidavit must be simultaneously recorded with the certified copy of the judgment stating the lien holder’s address.

Once a judgment is recorded as described above, it becomes a lien on real property. Importantly, a judgment lien is only effective in the county for which it is recorded. If a judgment is recorded in Polk County but the judgment debtor only owns real property in Orange County, the judgment holder has not created a lien on the judgment debtor’s property. As a result, great care must be taken to ensure that the judgment is recorded in the appropriate counties to create a lien on a judgment debtor’s property.

Judgment liens on real property have an expiration date. Under the current law, a judgment lien recorded on or after July 1, 1994 remains a judgment lien on real property for ten years from the date of its recording. A judgment lien holder can extend this period for one additional ten-year period by rerecording a certified copy of the judgment prior to the expiration of the lien and by simultaneously recording an affidavit with the current address of the lienholder. An extension is effective from the date the certified copy of the judgment is rerecorded. No judgment can act as a lien on real property in Florida after twenty years from the date of the entry of the judgment expires.

Personal Property

A judgment can become a lien on the judgment debtor’s personal property by filing a judgment lien certificate with the Florida Department of State. The Florida Department of State produces a form Judgment Lien Certificate which can be filled out and filed with the department in order to create the lien on personal property. A judgment lien on personal property becomes effectives the date it is filed.

A judgment lien on personal property also has an expiration date. A judgment lien pursuant to a judgment lien certificate, becomes invalid five years after the date of the filing of the judgment lien certificate. However, at any time within six months before or six months after the scheduled lapse of a judgment lien, the judgment creditor may acquire a second judgment lien by filing a new judgment lien certificate. The effective date of the second judgment lien is the date and time on which the judgment lien certificate is filed. The second judgment lien permanently lapses and becomes invalid five years after its filing date, and additional liens based on the original judgment or any judgment based on the original judgment may not be acquired.

When dealing with liens time is of the essence as liens are generally prioritized by the time with which they were recorded or filed. If someone records their judgment first or files their judgment certificate first, it will generally be superior to those liens that are recorded or filed later in time.

Florida law does provide for certain homestead exemptions which exempt a judgment debtor’s homestead and some personal property from forced sale and from judgment liens. If you believe that certain property may be protected by Florida’s homestead exemption it is recommended to consult with an attorney regarding these rights.

If you were recently awarded a judgment, or are attempting to collect on a judgment, I would advise hiring an attorney to streamline the process and to make sure your judgment is perfected appropriately against the assets of the judgment debtor.

J. Matthew Kelly is an attorney with the law firm Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A. in Lakeland. Questions can be submitted to thelaw@cclmlaw.com.

Supreme Court: Sports Betting is No Longer Prohibited Under Federal Law, it is Time for Each State to Decide for Themselves

By: Kevin R. Albaum, Esq.
Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A.

On May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court (USSC) struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (the “Act”) by ruling that the entire Act was unconstitutional. Since the Act was enacted in 1992, it implemented a federal ban on all sports betting throughout the United States (with only a few exemptions from the Act such as the gaming industry in Nevada). The USSC’s ruling was based on the belief that the Act violated the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution which states that “The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”. USSC’s ruling is saying that Congress had unconstitutionally abused their power by passing the Act and that each state should be responsible for deciding for themselves how their state should regulate sports betting. It is likely that the same line of reasoning (violation of Tenth Amendment) will be argued by the pro-marijuana side if the USSC decides to review a case in the near future regarding the legality of the federal ban on Marijuana.

Now that the USSC has handed down a decision, each state is able to regulate their own sports betting laws. Some states are acting fast as Delaware implemented legal sports betting on June 5, 2018, and Delaware Governor, John Carney, placed the first bet ($10.00 on the Philadelphia Phillies to win that day’s game) and on June 7, 2018, New Jersey had a bill pass allowing for legal sports betting. Other states (Connecticut, Mississippi, and West Virginia) are all expected to legalize sports betting by this fall in time for football season. California, Illinois, Michigan and New York all currently have bills or constitutional amendments pending that may pass before the end of 2018 as well. The legalization of sports betting is supposed to help cut down on a black-market industry where it is believed that Americans illegally wager over $150 Billion per year either through local bookies and offshore sports books. New Jersey will tax all gambling at a 9.75% tax rate with hopes to stimulate their revenue and to revive the dying tourist industry in Atlantic City. As many as twenty (20) other states are either considering or expected to consider legalization of sports betting by 2019 with more states likely to follow (especially if they see their neighboring states generating substantial revenue due to legalizing sports betting).

In Florida, sports betting remains illegal and that seems unlikely to change in the near future. This is due to a proposed constitutional amendment and an existing agreement with the Seminole Indian Tribe that both currently stand in the way of clarity to the legalization of sports betting in Florida. Amendment 3 will be on all Florida ballots this November and if passed will require that all casino gambling decisions in Florida would require an amendment to Florida’s Constitution in order to become law in Florida. If Amendment 3 passes, Florida’s legislature would no longer have the authority to create legislation related to casino gambling. The presence of Amendment 3 and the fact that this year’s session has already concluded makes is very unlikely for sports betting to become legal in Florida this year. Native American tribe agreements with the state of Florida will not be impacted by Amendment 3 (nor will pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing and dog racing).

About one-half of the states in U.S. have gaming agreements known as “Compacts” with Native American tribes which gives tribes the ability to conduct legal gambling operations. Currently, the Seminole Indian Tribe has a Compact with Florida and they pays the state more than $300 million a year for exclusive right to many card games and slot machine operations in the state in all counties besides Miami Dade and Broward. A renegotiation between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida is likely also needed before legal sports betting makes its way to Florida.

Kevin Albaum is an attorney in the Elder Law Practice at Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A. Questions can be submitted online to thelaw@cclmlaw.com.