Domestication of Foreign Judgments Obtained via Default: Attacking Personal Jurisdiction

Robbins & Onello recently opposed a Domestication of Foreign Judgment that was obtained via default. An agreement between the parties, signed prior to the commencement of the foreign action, provided for exclusive jurisdiction in California.  The foreign judgment was obtained in a state on the opposite Coast. Putting aside any procedural issues with gaining the default judgment over Defendant, an interesting question arose during litigation over the application for domestication: Does a party waive the right to challenge personal jurisdiction based on an exclusive jurisdiction clause, for purposes of domestication, if that party did not respond in the underlying (foreign) matter?

Nevada case law provides that personal jurisdiction in the underlying (foreign) matter can be challenged when a party attempts to domesticate a foreign judgment. (See Clint Hurt & Associates vs. Silver State Oil and Gas Co. Inc., 111 Nev. 1086, 901 P.2d 703 (Nev. 1995) and Emeterio v. Clint Hurt & Associates, Inc., 967 P.2d 432 (1998)). For example, if the underlying default judgment was obtained in Vermont, where the Plaintiff resided, but the Defendant resides in Nevada and has insufficient contacts with Vermont, but Plaintiff applied for domestication in Nevada, the Defendant in the underlying judgment could challenge the domestication based on whether the Vermont court had personal jurisdiction over the Defendant. No personal jurisdiction – no domestication. Can it be challenged in Nevada when a party attempts domestication– yes.

The Nevada case law that is “on-point” does not address “exclusive jurisdiction clauses” in this context, or other similar contractual challenges to personal jurisdiction. If for some reason, the Court finds that the right to challenge jurisdiction, based on a contractual exclusive jurisdiction clause, is waived for failing to respond in the underlying matter, the Defendant may also have remedies in suing for breach of contract.

Robbins & Onello will provide an update to this post as this matter progresses.

Note: This post should not be construed as “legal advice.” If you are in need of advice or representation, please call our office for a consultation.

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