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Michael Schafle
Michael Schafle
Attorney • (215) 790-4577

What to do when a defendant attempts to become judgment proof in Pennsylvania – Freeze his assets!

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Frequently, in cases where there is no insurance coverage or insurance coverage is questionable, it becomes necessary to seek other sources to satisfy personal injury verdicts or judgments. This is quite prevalent in cases where the defendant also faces criminal charges for the actions that give rise to the personal injury claims.[1] In such cases where individual defendants have significant assets, said defendants frequently try to shield those assets from attachment through litigation by gifting them or transferring them at an amount less than full consideration to loved ones or others. In essence, rather than maintain title or possession of the assets for the benefit of the injured party, the civil defendant would prefer to render his or herself judgment proof and provide those assets for the benefit of anyone other than the injured party.

However, the above situation does not leave civil plaintiffs without recourse in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Courts have recognized that injunctive relief is appropriate in these situations in order to a Defendant from engaging in the “unfair, wholesale” dissolution of their assets.[2] It has also been noted that a “probably unsatisfied money judgment constitutes a form of irreparable injury” for which a preliminary and/or permanent injunction is necessary.[3]

Accordingly, as soon as it becomes apparent that a defendant is attempting to dissipate his or her assets in anticipation of a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff’s attorney should consider obtaining a preliminary injunction to prevent defendant from rendering his or herself judgment proof. If you are a practicing attorney in Pennsylvania with questions on this process, please do not hesitate to contact me.



[1] It is also common where insurance coverage is known to be insufficient to cover a defendant’s liability in a given case. See Ambrogi v. Reber, 932 A.2d 969 (Pa.Super. 2007).[2] Walter v. Stacy, 837 A.2d 1205 (Pa.Super. 2003)[3] Allstate Insurance Company, et al. v. Davidson Medical Group, et al., 2004 U.S. District LEXIS 20987 at 13-14 (E.D.Pa. 2004)