Q: Can an American living in Germany be successfully sued or have collections put against them from someone in the states?

Im an American living in Germany and do not plan to return to the states. I signed a contract with a company out of Florida regarding medical consulting in relations to a claim with the Veterans Administration (Im a vet). The company did not do as advertised and thus we are in a dispute over services rendered. They are claiming I owe them about $6000 and I claim I owe them nothing as they violated the contract and did not do as was contracted. They are threatening "collections actions" if they are not paid.

Can an American living in Germany be successfully sued or have collections levied against them from the states? I have a great credit score in the states but its not relevant due to another type of credit system here. I have no bank accounts in the states. I don't care if credit is hurt from collections going after me but I do own a house here and don't want to loose it due to a lawsuit. Im more worried about my bank account being seized or some type of forced auction on my home.

2 Lawyer Answers
Barry W. Kaufman
Barry W. Kaufman
Answered
  • Collections Lawyer
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Of course you can be sued. The creditor will have to jump thru some hoops to get you served in Germany though. But regardless, once you are served, its just like you lived in the states. If the creditor obtained judgment, and wanted to enforce the judgment, it would have to go through a process to make the "US judgment" into a "German judgment" so that a German court could enforce the terms of it. Enforcement would be according to German law, not the law of the state in which you were sued. There are American lawyers in Germany (Frankfurt, etc) who might be able to give you insight (admittedly, there are likely far fewer practicing now with 50K troops serving in Germany than 500k of 30 years ago). The question is not whether you can be sued, but whether the creditor is going to go through the expense of doing so. No way to know.

Terrence H Thorgaard agrees with this answer

1 user found this answer helpful

Bruce Alexander Minnick
Bruce Alexander Minnick
Answered
  • Collections Lawyer
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Yes, an American living in Germany can be sued on a contract that originated anywhere in the United States; and yes, if the government (or private contracted) lawyer suing you on behalf of the Veterans Administration is smart enough, you might see all your worst fears come true.

On the other hand--depending upon how much money is involved--you might be able to find a Florida banking lawyer experienced enough to protect your Florida assets while you are not here. (Note: I have clients in NZ, UK, FR and elsewhere.)

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