Domestication of Foreign Judgements

Our office helps out-of-state individuals and attorneys “domesticate” judgments from other states in New York or New Jersey. Once domesticated, we can also take the necessary steps to enforce your judgment by collecting against the debtor’s assets located in New York or New Jersey.

Under New York law, the procedure for domesticating an out-of-state judgment is very straightforward when the judgment was obtained on the merits. The process is slightly more involved, however, when the judgment was obtained by default, as domestication of the latter requires the filing of a “Motion for Summary Judgment in Lieu of Complaint.”

In New Jersey, the domestication procedure is equally straightforward in both scenarios. Below you can view a sample copy of our letter of engagement; simply click the link for the letter appropriate to your needs.

Letters of Engagement:

New York Domestication – Judgment On the Merits
New York Domestication – Default Judgment
New Jersey Domestication

Below you will find some interesting and informative cases regarding various domestication issues.

Becker v Becker
Supreme Court of Nassau County denied plaintiff-wife’s motion to convert foreign judgment of divorce, granted by Dominican Republic, to a New York state judgment because it was not entitled to full faith and credit and it did not meet the definition of a foreign country money judgment. Although a plaintiff could ask the court to recognize a judgment of a foreign country, the court cannot convert a foreign country judgment into a New York judgment except by either a plenary action or by motion pursuant to CPLR § 3213 (motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint). The present action also did not fall within the scope of the definition of a Foreign Country Money Judgment, as defined by CPLR § 5301(b), which includes only those foreign judgment which either grant or deny recovery of a sum of money.

Cadle v Ayala
Second Department Appellate Division denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint pursuant to CPLR 5213, brought to enforce a foreign judgment entered upon default. Although CPLR §3213 does not require plaintiff to affirmatively plead and prove facts to establish long-arm jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendant, which must be raised by the defendant in opposition to the motion, the plaintiff still bears the burden of establishing that the defendant was properly served with the motion. Upon denial, plaintiff’s moving papers shall be deemed the complaint and the plaintiff may still move for leave to enter a default judgment upon proper proof.

Fiore v Oakwood Plaza Shopping Center
The Court of Appeals affirmed an order of the Supreme Court, granting a motion by plaintiffs for summary judgment in lieu of complaint pursuant to CPLR § 3213, to domesticate two Pennsylvania judgments. The Court held that a Pennsylvania cognovit judgment, (similar to confession of judgment) a judgment based on a contractual provision whereby an obligor consents in advance to the creditor’s obtaining a judgment without notice or hearing, was entitled to full faith and credit in New York courts. To determine whether a cognovit judgment is entitled to full faith and credit, it must be determined that the judgment debtor made a voluntary, knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to notice and an opportunity to be heard

Glass Contractors v Target Supply and Display
Second Department Appellate Division reversed an order of the Civil Court of New York City, which denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint based on a default judgment in Nebraska. The court emphasized that foreign judgments obtained by default may only be domesticated through a plenary action which may be initiated by a motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint pursuant to CPLR § 3213. In reviewing such foreign judgments, the court’s inquiry is limited to ascertaining whether the Nebraska courts had personal jurisdiction over defendants. The court determined that defendant had sufficient contacts within Nebraska to subject it in personam jurisdiction under Nebraska long-arm statute.