USA v. Spathis

Filing 23

Order by Hon. Phyllis J. Hamilton granting 17 Application for Order of Continuing Garnishment.(pjhlc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/11/2016)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No. 99-cv-00842-PJH Plaintiff, 8 v. ORDER OF CONTINUING GARNISHMENT DIMITRIOS H. SPATHIS, Re: Dkt. Nos. 17, 20 Defendant. 12 13 14 Before the court is plaintiff the United States’ response to the court’s order to show 15 cause regarding plaintiff’s application for an order of continuing garnishment. Dkt. 20. 16 For the following reasons, the court GRANTS the application and ORDERS continuing 17 garnishment, with the following limitations. 18 19 BACKGROUND This matter regards the United States’ efforts to collect on the student loan debt of 20 pro se defendant Dimitrios H. Spathis. On February 25, 1999, the United States sued 21 Spathis, alleging default on a student loan debt of $10,694.86. On September 28, 1999, 22 the court approved a consent judgment entered against Spathis in the amount of 23 $15,155.47. Dkt. 9. With interest, the United States asserts that the amount owing on 24 the judgment as of September 9, 2016, is $36,649.33 Dkt. 17 ¶ 8. 25 On July 21, 2016, the court granted the United States’ application for a writ of 26 continuing garnishment in compliance with 28 U.S.C. § 3205. Dkt. 14. The writ was 27 served on the garnishee, Spathis’ employer The Container Store, and on Spathis himself 28 on August 4, 2016. Dkt. 22. Spathis has not requested a hearing, objected, or otherwise 1 responded to the writ (or the garnishee’s answer), and the time period for doing so has 2 elapsed. 28 U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5). 3 On August 1, The Container Store (the “Garnishee”) filed an answer objecting to 4 the writ. Dkt. 16. The Container Store represents that Spathis works part time and his 5 net biweekly wages are too low to be garnished under the Consumer Credit Protection 6 Act. See 29 C.F.R. § 870.10(a); U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, 7 Fact Sheet #30: The Federal Wage Garnishment Law. The Garnishee states, however, 8 that garnishment has been applied to Spathis’ record, and that wages will be “forwarded 9 if earnings are enough to withhold.” On September 9, the United States filed an application for an order of continuing 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 garnishment. Dkt. 17. On October 3, the court issued an order to show cause, raising 12 two issues: (1) “why the application should not be denied given the garnishee’s 13 representation that Spathis’ wages are too low to be garnished”; and (2) “how the writ of 14 garnishment was served upon the defendant, and which address was used for service.” 15 Dkt. 19. The United States promptly responded to the order to show cause. It filed a proof 16 17 of service showing that Spathis was served with the writ on August 4 by mail. Dkt. 22. 18 The court is satisfied that service was properly effected. The United States concedes that Spathis “currently” does not earn enough for any 19 20 wages to be withheld, but argues that he might do so in the future. The United States 21 understood the Garnishee’s objection as merely “a way of explaining that it cannot 22 provide withholdings for the current pay period, or any other bi-weekly pay period in 23 which Spathis’ non-exempt disposable wages do not exceed $435.00.” Dkt. 19 at 2. 24 This position is consistent with the terms of the writ and the applicable law, and the 25 United States “accepts this position as compliant with the law.” Id. Nonetheless, the 26 United States argues that an order of garnishment should still be granted. 27 /// 28 /// 2 1 CONCLUSION 2 The court hereby GRANTS the order of continuing garnishment. Provided, 3 however, that the Garnishee shall only withhold and remit wages that are garnishable 4 under the law, in compliance with the terms of the writ itself. See Dkt. 11-1 at 5; 29 5 C.F.R. § 870.10(a); 15 U.S.C. §1673(a). In particular, should Spathis continue to earn 6 less than $435 biweekly in disposable earnings in a given pay period, no monies shall be 7 withheld for that pay period. 8 Accordingly, the court hereby ORDERS the Garnishee to withhold 25% of any of 9 Spathis’ earnings that are subject to withholding under the law and the terms of the writ, for all future pay periods. The Garnishee shall remit any withheld monies to the U.S. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Department of Justice, and shall mail them to: Nationwide Central Intake Facility, P.O. 12 Box 790363, St. Louis, MO 63179-0363. The payments will continue until the judgment 13 is satisfied in full, or until the Garnishee no longer has in its possession or control any 14 property belonging to the debtor, or until further order of this court. 15 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: October 11, 2016 17 18 19 20 __________________________________ PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON United States District Judge 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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