There is a disturbing case out of Florissant, Missouri where Ruby Sawyers lost her home due to an unpaid debt. Regrettably, that is not unique or even rare in this economy, but the debt was owed to her former attorney and the person who bought the home was her former attorney, David Waltrip. What is also concerning is the cost of the litigation in a custody case.
Sawyers is a part-time waitress who was trying to help her son get sole custody of his baby boy. She hired Waltrip for what she says was an agreed upon fee of $15,000 or $20,000. Waltrip won the case and Sawyers said she was paying $200 a month, but then received a bill for almost a quarter of a million dollars. She said that she and her grandson agreed to the judgment of the debt to avoid legal complications. They then filed for bankruptcy.
The problem is that judgment meant that you could not just declare bankruptcy and Waltrip went after her home through a lien.
Waltrip insists that the case took two years and a lot of work (and tried to work with the family on the costs and payments), but I was very surprised that a custody case in Missouri could result in such a staggering legal bill.
Waltrip certainly appears to have followed the law on securing the judgment, lien, and forced sale. However, the amount of the judgment leaves me uncertain about what went on in this case.