Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Enrolling and Enforcing a Foreign Judgment under Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act = Transacting Business in the State and Subjects Filer to Personal Jurisdiction

From St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co. v. Cueto, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20020 (D. Md. Mar. 5, 2010):

The Maryland courts have not yet addressed the question of whether enrollment of foreign judgments constitutes purposeful availment of state law and satisfies the "[t]ransacts any business" requirement of the state's long-arm statute. Even outside of Maryland, it appears that no court has directly decided the issue under its own long-arm statutes or as a matter of constitutional due process. The statute authorizing the enrollment and enforcement of foreign judgments, the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act ("UEFJA"), is likewise silent on the issue of whether the filing of the foreign judgment confers personal jurisdiction in other proceedings. See \Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. Proc., §§ 11-801-07 (West 2009). Given the lack of precedent and statutory guidance, the Court will treat this issue as one of first impression.

[Footnote 2] Unlike UEFJA, the Maryland Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which provides for the enforcement of out-of-state child-support orders against obligors who reside in Maryland, specifically addresses the issue of personal jurisdiction. It states: "Participation by a plaintiff in a proceeding before a responding tribunal, whether in person, by private attorney, or through services provided by the support enforcement agency, does not confer personal jurisdiction over the plaintiff in another proceeding." See Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 10-326(a) (West 2009).

The Court concludes that a non-resident defendant who enrolls foreign default judgments in Maryland pursuant to UEFJA "[t]ransacts . . . business" within the meaning of Maryland's long-arm statute. It arrives at this conclusion based on the similarities between the purposeful availment of a state's laws and protections when a judgment creditor enrolls a foreign default judgment and when a litigant files a lawsuit. Prior to enactment of UEFJA, a judgment creditor had to file a lawsuit in Maryland to enforce a foreign judgment. See Weiner v. Blue Cross of Md., Inc., 730 F. Supp. 674, 676 (D. Md. 1990). UEFJA streamlined the procedure for enforcing a judgment by eliminating the need to file a complaint,*** but a judgment creditor retains the right to bring an action to enforce a judgment instead of proceeding under UEFJA. *** A foreign judgment filed pursuant to the procedures of UEFJA is treated as a Maryland judgment, *** and "has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses, and proceeding for reopening, vacating, staying, enforcing, or satisfying as a judgment of the court in which it is filed”***. Thus, the initiation and outcome of a proceeding under UEFJA is substantively similar to those of a civil action. Just as civil actions voluntarily initiated by nonresidents may constitute purposeful availment of the laws and protections of Maryland, so also should foreign judgment enrollment proceedings.

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