How to Enforce an Out-of-State Judgment in New York

So you obtained a judgment against someone in one state, but then that person moved to New York. You may be wondering what you need to do in order to enforce that judgment in New York. Well, the answer is not as easy as one would like. New York has a two special processes for enforcing foreign judgments.

1. Procedure if Defendant Appeared and the Case Was Litigated

If your case was one in which the defendant actually defended, or did not default, you have a much easier process. To turn that judgment into a NY State judgment we just need an exemplified copy of the judgment from the clerk of the court that awarded you a judgment, and information regarding whether any payments have been made on the judgment, whether there is any stay regarding the judgment, and the judgment debtor’s last known address. An exemplified copy is a copy that has been certified as a true copy by someone in the clerk’s office and then that signature in turn is certified as genuine by a judge. An exemplified copy typically has embossed seals. To turn this out-of-state judgment into a NY judgment we file the exemplified copy of the judgment with the county clerk with some additional documents that we can prepare for you.

2. Procedure if Judgment is a Default Judgment

If the out-of-state judgment was obtained by default then the procedure is much more involved. A default judgment is one that is granted to the plaintiff on default based on defendant’s failure to answer or appear.

NY will not grant automatic recognition to an out-of-state default judgment. For an out-of-state default judgment NY has a summary procedure to obtain recognition. The easiest procedure is to file a motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint. That sets up a summary procedure that is designed to determine whether defendant received proper service of legal papers in the out-of-state case and that granting recognition to the judgment doesn’t violate NY public policy.

Under NY case law on this issue, the issues that the NY court faced with the out-of-state judgment can properly review is (a) whether there was adequate service of legal papers in the out-of-state lawsuit (based on the affidavits of service in that case), and (b) whether the court had jurisdiction to hear the case (i.e., had a proper basis to hear the matter). As an alternative to bringing a motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint, we can bring a new action on the judgment. This is a brand new lawsuit based on the judgment previously obtained.

Once your sister-state judgment has been turned into a New York judgment we can then enforce the judgment in New York against the assets of the defendant/judgment debtor.

Ways to enforce a judgment once it is recognized are many. You can obtain a financial institution execution to get money from a bank account; you could get a property lien and turn it into a foreclosure if you do not receive payment; or you could get a wage execution and be paid each time they get paid at work.

The attorneys at Maya Murphy can help you in this difficult process. Let us get you the money you deserve. Call today at 203-221-3100.