The Pennsylvania Superior Court has clarified the standard by which a foreign judgment can be recognized and enforced under the Uniform Foreign Money Judgment Recognition Act.
In Eclipse Liquidity v. Geden Holdings, a three-judge panel upheld a denial of defendant Geden Holdings’ motion to strike a nearly $3.5 million judgment entered against it in the United Kingdom.
In doing so, the court held that foreign judgments to be enforced in Pennsylvania should be treated the same as judgments entered in different states—not requiring the filing of a local lawsuit to be enforced.
Geden argued that Eclipse Liquidity’s praecipe to enter a foreign money judgment in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas was not sufficient, claiming that a civil action had to be commenced in Pennsylvania for the foreign judgment to be recognized.
Superior Court Judge Correale F. Stevens wrote in the court’s opinion that the act was meant to efficiently enforce foreign judgments.
“This reading of the statute is consistent with its text, which makes clear the legislature intended to streamline the enforcement of foreign-country judgments by making them ‘enforceable in the same manner as the judgment of another state which is entitled to full faith and credit,’” Stevens said. “The Enforcement Act governs the enforcement of judgments from other states, and requires only that the party seeking enforcement file a copy of the judgment and docket entries with the clerk of any court of common pleas.”
He added, “The filer does not need to commence a civil action or otherwise take any step to have the judgment ‘recognized’ before seeking enforcement.”
Stevens said Eclipse’s praecipe to enforce the judgment was sufficient and no other action was needed.
The judge also said the defendant’s due process claims were meritless.
“Finally, appellant’s due process argument ignores that appellant had a prior opportunity in the original forum to defend against the claims underlying the foreign judgment,” Stevens said. “The proceedings in the United Kingdom culminated in a judgment, which, though not protected by full faith and credit or immune from attack, is nevertheless entitled to deference under the principles of comity.”
He continued, “We do not find that principles of due process are offended by placing the burden on appellant to raise grounds for nonrecognition of the foreign judgment, including any procedural deficiency of the foreign proceedings, in a petition to open or strike the judgment after it has been domesticated in the commonwealth.”
Frank DeGiulio of Palmer Biezup & Henderson represents Geden and Mary Reeves of Reeves McEwing represents Eclipse; neither responded to requests for comment.
(Copies of the 12-page opinion in Eclipse Liquidity v. Geden Holdings, PICS No. 18-1413, are available at http://at.law.com/PICS.)