Personal Service Unnecessary in Domestication Procedure

toates Collections

On September the 5th District Court of Appeal issued its opinion in Pratt v. Equity Bank, (Fifth District Court of Appeal Case No. 5D12-4622, published September 27, 2013) ruling that the Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgment Act (FEFJA) does not require a new service of process in Florida. In this case a creditor used the FEFJA procedure to domesticate a Kansas judgment in a Florida Circuit Court. Once the domestication process was complete, the creditor sought discovery under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The debtor, having failed to respond to the discovery requests, was compelled by an order of the Court to produce the discovery responses and was at risk of being held in contempt under an order to show cause. The debtor ultimately asserted a jurisdictional defense that because he was not served with process in the domestication procedure, the Florida court was without jurisdiction over the debtor. The trial court overruled the debtor’s objection and an appeal ensued.

The 5th District Court of Appeal held that once the creditor completed the FEFJA procedure the Kansas judgment had “the same effect and shall be subject to the same rules of civil procedure, legal and equitable defenses, and proceedings for reopening, vacating, or staying judgments, and it may be enforced, released, or satisfied, as a judgment of a circuit or county court of this state [Florida].”  The District Court rejected the debtor’s constitutional arguments concerning FEFJA’s alleged failure to meet due process standards and the debtor’s minimum contacts. In terms of minimum contacts, the Court ruled that enforcement of the foreign judgment was not barred as to the judgment debtor’s assets located here [in Florida].

If you are attempting to collect a judgment in Florida which was issued by another State or foreign country, or you are defending a domestication action, the attorneys at Law Offices of Oates & Oates, P.A., can assist you.