Suit proceeds for lawyer arrested for client’s tax debt

Peter Vieth//April 28, 2015

Suit proceeds for lawyer arrested for client’s tax debt

Peter Vieth//April 28, 2015

A federal judge has denied dismissal motions from Warren County officials in light of new allegations from a Vienna lawyer who was arrested as a registered agent for a company named in a county tax collection action.

In an amended complaint, attorney Michael H. Ryu contends the county had an illegal policy to arrest the registered agents of companies that had defaulted on their taxes.

The practice victimizes the innocent, Ryu claimed. He pointed to Virginia statutes allowing an attorney to serve as a registered agent for a corporation with the sole duty to forward communications to the corporation at its last known address.

Ryu claimed the assistant county attorney who had a warrant issued for his arrest told him, “We do this all the time.”

Ryu was arrested in May of last year after he failed to appear in court on a summons based on the bankrupt client company’s overdue taxes.

The county lawyer’s request for the arrest warrant “was an act of recklessness in disregard of black-letter Virginia law,” Ryu said in his civil rights lawsuit, filed by Alexandria lawyer Victor M. Glasberg.

The arrest was proper, the county contends.

“The fact that Ryu was only the registered agent for the company, as argued in the Complaint, does not invalidate the issued summons to answer interrogatories,” the county said in its brief.

“In fact, all Ryu had to do was contact the County Attorney’s Office to explain the situation,” wrote Fairfax attorney Julia B. Judkins on behalf of the county and its lawyer.

“Under the circumstances of this case, Ryu had responsibility for taking some action to avoid what ultimately happened,” Judkins said.

Ryu claims the county’s entire tax collection effort was a violation of the automatic stay of the bankruptcy court, but the county lawyer said he never received the bankruptcy notice.

On April 24, U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton allowed Ryu to file his amended complaint, denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss as moot and gave the defendants two weeks to file new responsive pleadings.


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