United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT / JUDGMENT DEBTOR'S
OBJECTION TO WRIT OF CONTINUING GARNISHMENT
Benjamin H. Settle, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant / Judgment Debtor
Kyle Baxter's (“Baxter”) objection to the
United States' motion for writ of continuing garnishment.
Dkt. 8. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in
support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder
of the file and hereby denies Baxter's objection and
request for a hearing for the reasons stated herein.
FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
3, 2014, the United States filed a felony information
charging Baxter with one count of making false, fictitious,
and fraudulent claims to the Government, relating to his
filing of false tax returns. See United States v.
Baxter, No. 14-cr-5296-1 RJB, Dkt. 1. On July 11, 2014,
Baxter waived formal indictment and pled guilty to the
charge. Id., Dkts. 4-8. On October 16, 2014, the
Honorable Robert J. Bryan entered judgment, ordering Baxter
to pay restitution in the amount of $255, 033 to the Internal
Revenue Service (“IRS”). Id., Dkt. 23 at
November 6, 2018, the United States applied for a writ of
continuing garnishment (“garnishment”). Dkt. 1.
The United States sought the garnishment to recover funds
from distributions of Baxter's wages in order to collect
the remaining restitution balance, which was approximately
$242, 000 when this action was filed. Id.
November 8, 2018, the Court entered an Order to issue a writ
of continuing garnishment to garnishee Prestige Care, Inc
(“Prestige”). Dkts. 3, 4. On November 26, 2018,
Prestige answered the garnishment, asserting that it employs
Baxter and disburses wages to him on a bi-weekly basis. Dkt.
7 at 2.
December 6, 2018, Baxter filed a letter and a Request for
Hearing form (“objection”), asking to reduce the
amount of the Garnishment from 25 percent to 13 percent of
his disposable earnings due to financial hardship.
See Dkts. 8, 8-1. Baxter asserts that he supports
two children, owes $60 a month in child support, and drives
nearly 100 miles each day commuting to work, which has become
more expensive with rising gas prices. Dkt. 8. Baxter also
claimed three property exemptions to the garnishment. Dkt.
8-1. On February 28, 2019, the United States responded, Dkt.
10, and filed a supporting declaration which included twenty
pages of Baxter's redacted financial records. Dkts. 11,
United States is authorized to enforce any restitution order
imposed as part of a criminal sentence by using its powers
under the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act, 28 U.S.C.
§ 3001 et seq (“FDCPA”).
Under the FDCPA, a judgment debtor may contest garnishment
proceedings by filing a request for a hearing and/or an
objection to the garnishment. 28 U.S.C. § 3202(d); 28
U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5). Where the underlying judgment was
not by default, a judgment debtor can obtain relief from
garnishment on only two grounds: (1) that the property the
United States is taking is exempt from garnishment; or (2)
that the United States has not complied with the statutory
requirements for the garnishment process. 28 U.S.C §
3202(d)(1)-(2); see also United States v. Webb, No.
CR-10-1071-PHX-JAT (LOA), 2014 WL 2153954, at *4 (D. Ariz.
May 15, 2014). The judgment debtor has the burden of proving
that a basis for relief exists. 28 U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5).
The Court examines each of Baxter's grounds for objection
first objects to the garnishment for financial hardship.
See Dkt. 8 at 1 (“I am requesting that the
Writ of garnishment be withheld at a lesser amount. . . . I
do not live outside my means and am willing to pay off all
debts. I am asking that I not be made Destitute
[sic] by the 25% and only take 13%.”). The
court may consider “the probable validity of any claim
of exemption by the judgment debtor.” 28 U.S.C. §
threshold issue, the United States argues that a claim of
generalized financial hardship by a judgment debtor “is
not a valid objection to the [g]arnishment” and should
not be considered by the Court. Dkt. 10 at 4-5 (citing 28
U.S.C. § 3202(d)(1)-(2)). In support of its position,
the United States cites authority demonstrating that
“numerous courts-including this one-have consistently
refused to consider claims of financial hardship” made
by judgment debtors. Dkt. 10 at 5 (citing United States
v. Lawrence, 538 F.Supp.2d 1188, 1194 (D.S.D. 2008)
(limiting viable objections to garnishment to those listed in
§ 3202(d)) (collecting cases) and United States v.
Skeins, No. C14-1457-JLR, 2014 WL 5324880 at *3 (W.D.
Wash. Oct. 17, 2014) (finding that generalized financial
hardship is not a valid objection)). Upon review of these
authorities, the Court agrees that Baxter's asserted
claim of financial hardship falls outside the scope of any
property or right that is statutorily exempted from
garnishment. Therefore, Baxter fails to meet his burden
to demonstrate that the property the United States seeks to
take here-his wages-are exempt from garnishment based on his
financial hardship. Webb, 2014 WL 2153954, at *4.
Accordingly, Baxter's objection to the garnishment on
this basis is denied.
Claimed Property Exemptions
Baxter asserts that “the property the Government is
taking is exempt” from garnishment. Dkt. 8-1 at 1. In
his Request for Hearing form, Baxter claims three exemptions:
“wearing apparel and school books, ” “fuel,
provisions, furniture, and personal ...