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Enforcement of Foreign Judgements in Nevada

Posted by: on Sun, Dec 30, 2012

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Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States requires each state to give full faith and credit to the official acts and judgments of every other state. The “full faith and credit” clause unites the states in a very practical way, and is meant to prevent abuses of jurisdiction experienced during the period of time when the original states were under the Articles of Confederation. Even though “full faith and credit” is mandatory, the states have never wholly resolved the problem of its implementation. The Revised Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act settles one of those problems.

Without the Uniform Act, a person who obtains a valid judgment of a court in one state likely will have to re­-litigate the enforcement of that judgment in any other state. Such a state of affairs clearly violates the spirit of “full faith and credit” and is a burden on those who have obtained a judgment in one state and who must take it to other states for enforcement for whatever reason.

A state, such as Nevada, that has enacted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, permits enforcement of a judgment from another state upon the mere act of filing it in the office of a Clerk of the District Court and paying the required filing fee. The act of filing the foreign judgment gives it the effect of being a judgment of the court in the state in which it is filed. The process of enforcement then goes forward as if the judgment is a domestic one.

The Uniform Foreign Judgment Act, what was first adopted in Nevada in 1979 as set forth below, allows the state to enforce a judgment from another state without the expense of litigation. There are notable exceptions, which is why legal action should be commenced in the state where the defendant is domiciled. A foreign judgment must be filed with the Clerk of the District Court in the county in which the attempt is being made to enforce the judgment. This should include any enforcement proceedings such as the Writ of Execution upon assets, etc. The steps that must be taken are as follows:

  • Obtain an original exemplified copy of the judgment (a triple certified copy) from the court where the judgment was granted (see further explanation of the three signatures required below). NRS 17.350
  • File an application with the exemplified judgment together with a filing fee, with the District Court Clerk, and an affidavit which includes the name and last known address of all parties to the judgment, together with a description as to how much remains due on the judgment, and the extent to which it has been satisfied. See NRS 17. 360 below.
  • File a “NOTICE OF FILING APPLICATION FOR FOREIGN JUDGMENT AND AFFIAVIT OF ATTORNEY FOR THE JUDGMENT CREDITOR” and attach thereto file stamped copies of the Application (including the exemplified copy of the judgment) and Affidavit of the attorney for the judgment creditor, and then mail this Notice by Certified Mail to all judgment parties. NRS 17.360(2).

File an Affidavit of Service evidencing the mailing of the above documents to all judgment parties.

The plaintiff may also choose to record a certified copy of the Notice of Filing Application for Foreign Judgment and Affidavit of the Attorney for Judgment Creditor in any county in Nevada where the defendant may own real property either now or in the future.

It is easy for the court to deny recognizing the foreign judgment. One reason for denial is an appeal, which is pending in the original court that first issued the judgment.. A “stay” may be granted if a debtor can allege grounds exist in the court’s jurisdiction where the foreign judgment is being filed, thus creating a “stay” preventing the foreign judgment from being recorded. Such grounds include: lack of sufficient notice in obtaining the original judgment, the judgment was obtained by fraud, the cause of action conflicts with state policies in the state where the foreign judgment is to be filed, the judgment conflicts with another final judgment, the original case is on appeal or being challenged by motion, or lack of jurisdiction over the debtor in the original judgment, etc.

A “stay” by the debtor must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the notice of the filing of the foreign judgment. Thirty (30) days after a foreign judgment is filed and notice has been given to the judgment debtor, the creditor may begin enforcement of the judgment by means allowed by law within the state in which the foreign judgment has been domesticated in the State of Nevada.

It is easy for a debtor to request a “stay” or be granted denial of having the foreign judgment domesticated. This means that a creditor runs the risk of having to file suit twice on the same overdue balance. The rule of “Sufficiency of Contact” must be applied to establish jurisdiction. Most states vary considerably on what determines “sufficient notice” when obtaining the original judgment. If there was a flaw in service of process or it was inconsistent with the court where the foreign judgment is to be domesticated, then the courts will often not allow the foreign judgment to be enforced.

Remember that if a creditor has obtained a judgment in a foreign jurisdiction, (basically, any other state outside of Nevada) it must be domesticated by the Nevada courts specifically as provided in the Uniform Act below, before the judgment creditor can move forward with actions such as wage garnishments, bank account garnishments, property levies or sales of real or personal property.

If a creditor wishes to domesticate a foreign judgment in Nevada, the relevant statutes governing such action are NRS 17.330 – 17.400. Under those statutes, (copied below) the first step to domesticating a foreign judgment is to submit the following packet to Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District Court (for debt collection and enforcement actions upon property located in Clark County, Nevada):

1. Civil Cover Sheet
2. Filing fee
3. Application of Foreign Judgment
4. An exemplified (not file-stamped or certified) copy of the foreign judgment attached as Exhibit “1”, and
5. Affidavit of Attorney for the Judgment Creditor

After the above packet is submitted to Nevada’s Eighth District Court, the judgment creditor must send a Notice of Filing Application of Foreign Judgment and Affidavit of Judgment Creditor (with file stamped copies of the Application and Affidavit attached) to the judgment debtor and judgment

debtor’s attorney of record, if applicable. That notice must be sent certified mail, return-receipt requested. Next, after the Notice of Filing has been sent to the judgment debtor, an Affidavit of Service (showing the date on which the notice was mailed) should be filed with the court. No

writ of execution or other process for enforcement of a foreign judgment may issue until 30 days after the date of mailing the Notice of Filing. This delay allows adequate time for the judgment debtor to file a motion to stay enforcement of the judgment for various grounds, such as the original judgment is the subject of a timely appeal. The timeline described above may be more easily understood by the following chart:

NO

DATE

DOCUMENT

1

10/18/12

Application for Foreign Judgment

2

10/18/12

Civil Cover Sheet

3

10/19/12

Affidavit of  Attorney for Judgment Creditor

4

10/22/12

Notice of Filing Application for Foreign Judgment and Affidavit of Attorney for Judgment Creditor

5

10/23/12

Affidavit of Service

6

10/23/12

Recorded copy of Notice of Filing Application for Foreign Judgment and Affidavit of Attorney for Judgment Creditor

7

10/24/12

Calendar dates to renew Foreign Judgment in 6 years

To domesticate a foreign judgment in Nevada, you must complete certain paperwork and attach an exemplified copy of the order that you want domesticated. A file-stamped copy or a certified copy of the judgment is not enough. It helps to remember that an “exemplified” copy has three signatures or oaths on it; one from a judge and two from the Clerk’s Office of the Court where the original judgment was entered. A “certified” copy only has one seal, which is from the Clerk’s Office, and is adequate for some purposes, such as recording the document, but a certified copy is NOT adequate in Nevada for domesticating a foreign judgment. Most courts charge a small fee for the exemplified copy, and busy jurisdictions may not produce the exemplified copy for one or two weeks.

Remember that by statute, you must wait at least 30 days from the day you mail notice to the judgment debtor (defendant) and his/her attorney before you can act to enforce the judgment (i.e., such as garnishment or bank levy) in Nevada.

Since Nevada does not limit the number of times a party may renew a judgment, when a party files a valid foreign judgment in Nevada, it constitutes a new action for the purposes of the statute of limitations. See, Trubenbach v. Amstadter, 849 P.2d 288 (Nev. 1993).

Nevada’s judgments are subject to a six (6) year statute of limitations. NRS 11.190(1)(a). However, they can be renewed every six years pursuant to the process set out in NRS 17.214. Some states have a longer statute of limitations, such as California, which allows renewal every 10 years. The Nevada Supreme Court has held that a judgment creditor can domesticate a foreign judgment in Nevada, even if the first domestication expired in Nevada after six years, so long as the foreign judgment is valid and enforceable in the issuing state. See, Bianchi v. Bank of America, 186 P.3d 890 (Nev. 2008).

Nevada’s ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN JUDGMENTS (UNIFORM ACT)

NRS 17.330 Short title. NRS 17.330 to 17.400, inclusive, may be cited as the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act.

(Added to NRS by 1979, 1496)

NRS 17.340 “Foreign judgment” defined. As used in NRS 17.330 to 17.400, inclusive, unless the context otherwise requires, “foreign judgment” means any judgment of a court of the United States or of any other court which is entitled to full faith and credit in this state, except:

1. A judgment to which chapter 130 of NRS applies; and

2. An order for protection issued for the purpose of preventing violent or threatening acts or harassment against, or contact or communication with or physical proximity to, another person, including temporary and final orders.

(Added to NRS by 1979, 1496; A 1997, 2268; 2001, 2132)

NRS 17.350 Filing and status of foreign judgments. An exemplified copy of any foreign judgment may be filed with the clerk of any district court of this state. The clerk shall treat the foreign judgment in the same manner as a judgment of the district court of this state. A judgment so filed has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses and proceedings for reopening, vacating or staying as a judgment of a district court of this state and may be enforced or satisfied in like manner.

(Added to NRS by 1979, 1496)

NRS 17.360 Affidavit; notice of filing judgment and affidavit.

1. At the time of the filing of the foreign judgment, the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor’s attorney shall file with the clerk of the court an affidavit setting forth the name and last known post office address of the judgment debtor and the judgment creditor. The affidavit must also include a statement that the foreign judgment is valid and enforceable, and the extent to which it has been satisfied.

2. Promptly upon filing the foreign judgment and affidavit, the judgment creditor or someone on behalf of the judgment creditor shall mail notice of the filing of the judgment and affidavit, attaching a copy of each to the notice, to the judgment debtor and to the judgment debtor’s attorney of record, if any, each at his or her last known address by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice shall include the name and post office address of the judgment creditor and the judgment creditor’s attorney, if any, in this state. The judgment creditor shall file with the clerk of the court an affidavit setting forth the date upon which the notice was mailed.

3. No execution or other process for enforcement of a foreign judgment may issue until 30 days after the date of mailing the notice of filing.

(Added to NRS by 1979, 1496)

NRS 17.370 Stay of enforcement of foreign judgment.

1. If the judgment debtor shows the court that an appeal from the foreign judgment is pending or will be taken, or that a stay of execution has been granted, the court shall stay enforcement of the foreign judgment until the appeal is concluded, the time for appeal expires or the stay of execution expires or is vacated, upon proof that the judgment debtor has furnished the security for the satisfaction of the judgment required by the state in which it was rendered.

2. If the judgment debtor shows the court any ground upon which enforcement of a judgment of any court of this state would be stayed, including, without limitation, a showing that an appeal is pending or will be taken, that a stay has been granted, requested or will be requested, or that the time for taking an appeal has not yet expired, the court shall stay enforcement of the foreign judgment for an appropriate period, upon requiring the same security for satisfaction of the judgment which is required in this state, including, without limitation, security determined pursuant to NRS 20.035, if applicable.

(Added to NRS by 1979, 1497; A 2001, 1006)

NRS 17.380 Fees. Any person filing a foreign judgment shall pay to the clerk of the court the same filing fee as prescribed by statute for the filing of civil actions. Fees for enforcement proceedings are the same as provided for judgments of district courts of this state.

(Added to NRS by 1979, 1497)

NRS 17.390 Judgment creditor may bring action to enforce judgment. A judgment creditor may elect to bring an action to enforce his or her judgment instead of proceeding under NRS 17.330 to 17.400, inclusive.

(Added to NRS by 1979, 1497; A 1985, 37)

NRS 17.400 Uniformity of interpretation. NRS 17.330 to 17.400, inclusive, shall be so interpreted and construed as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law of those states which enact it.

(Added to NRS by 1979, 1497)

By Mark Albright Esq.

About the Authors: The law firm of Albright, Stoddard, Warnick & Albright is an A-V Rated Nevada-based full-service law firm having attorneys licensed in Nevada, California and Utah. Our firm’s practice includes a strong emphasis on commercial litigation.

Note: This article, and any other information you obtain at this website, is not offered as legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as such, nor is it a solicitation for legal services. Only a licensed attorney can advise you with respect to your specific legal needs. We welcome your contacting our firm to discuss such representation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

About the Authors: The law firm of Albright, Stoddard, Warnick & Albright is an A-V Rated Nevada-based full-service law firm having attorneys licensed in Nevada, California and Utah. Our firm’s practice includes a strong emphasis on personal injury accidents. Call us at 702-384-7111.

Note: This article, and any other information you obtain at this website, is not offered as legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as such, nor is it a solicitation for legal services. Only a licensed attorney can advise you with respect to your specific legal needs. We welcome your contacting our firm to discuss such representation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.