Want to Pay Other People’s Debts? Be a Captain Dave.

Seattle Times writer Danny Westneat recently wrote an engaging article about a fellow named Captain Dave. It goes something like this.

Captain Dave started the Seattle’s first modern floating farmers’ market at South Lake Union, “putting old boats back to work.” Unknown to Captain Dave, one of the market’s vendors was running up big dollars in back parking tickets, penalties and interest going back about 10 years. The City couldn’t find the scofflaw and they went after Captain Dave instead.

Last Winter the farmers’ market received a garnishment for wages from the City’s collection agent for the entire $7,800 debt. Captain Dave didn’t know where the vendor was. He called the City and the collection agent and explained the farmers’ market didn’t have any employees, thinking the whole thing would be dropped. Big mistake! When an employer doesn’t formally respond to garnishment papers, the employer can be come liable for the entire debt of the debtor even if the debtor is not an employee. Now the farmers’ market is shuttered.

Small business owners especially hate garnishments. The fee paid to the employer-garnishee to process an employee garnishment is a pittance, which doesn’t cover the employer’s costs and time. I always tell my clients, either process the garnishment or be prepared to pay what the debtor owes. Its the law.

By Robert Hawkinson

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If you’d like to read Danny Westneat’s entertaining article, Parking enforcers sink Capt. Dave, here’s the link – http://bit.ly/1aB915Y

© 2013 Robert K. Hawkinson. All Rights Reserved