How Attorneys Collect Foreign Judgments Across State Lines:
Debtors often move across state lines. A judgment in one state is virtually unenforceable if the debtor does not hold property there or is not working there. When a debtor or assets are discovered in another state, collection attorneys must take extra steps to enforce a foreign judgment in that state.
The United States Constitution requires that states give “full faith and credit” to the laws and court judgments of other states. Most states have therefore enacted laws that provide the procedure for enforcing an out-of-state judgment. However, the process varies widely from state to state. Thus, it is important to team with a qualified local attorney.
Louisiana Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act:
To make an out-of-state judgment executory in Louisiana, La. R.S. 13:4242 requires that a creditor file an ex parte petition with an authenticated copy of the foreign judgment annexed to the petition. Different states refer to these authenticated judgments by different terms. It is common to see the terms “Act of Congress Judgment,” “Exemplified Judgment,” and “Triple Seal Judgment” used interchangeably.
Certain notice requirements also must be followed per La. R.S. 13:4243. The creditor must file an affidavit that includes the name and addresses of the debtor and creditor. The clerk of court then must send notice of the filing to the debtor by certified mail. It is also wise for the creditor to also mail notice to the debtor and file a certificate to that effect. Failure to mail notice of filing by the clerk shall not affect the enforcement proceedings if proof of mailing by the judgment creditor has been filed.
Most of the time it will be clear which district a creditor wants to make the foreign judgment executory in. If the creditor owns immovable property, a creditor will want to make the foreign judgment executory in the parish where the property is situated, so the judgment can be recorded in the mortgage records thereby perfecting a judicial lien. If the debtor is working, the creditor may want to make it executory in the parish where the employer is situated so that wages can be garnished. If the debtor has a bank account in Louisiana, a creditor will want to file in a parish where that bank has a branch so that the bank can be garnished.
Sometimes though, a creditor may identify multiple assets or employment in different parishes. Rather than ordering multiple authenticated copies of the judgment and having to follow the strict notice requirements in multiple suits, it may be beneficial to make the foreign judgment executory in one district court and then make the judgment of that Louisiana court executory in the other districts.
This is because there is a 30-day window from mailing of the notice until the foreign judgment is enforceable. Thus, a creditor would be wise to follow the procedures of La. R.S. 13:4242 and 13:4243 in the district where immovable property is located. Then after the 30-day delay the creditor can make that Louisiana judgment immediately executory in any other district by following the easier procedure set forth in La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 2782.
Louisiana collection attorneys:
We are a Gretna law firm that has served the New Orleans area and State of Louisiana since 1980. Our creditors’ rights lawyers can quickly prepare the documents necessary to make your out-of-state judgment executory and enforceable in Louisiana. We take pride in offering an effective and efficient experience. Call us today for a free consultation and find out why so many of our clients come back to us.