Domesticating Out-of-State Default Judgments in New York

Image of New York City to represent domesticating an out-of-state judgmentAs New York debt collection attorneys, other attorneys and creditors often retain us when domesticating out-of-state judgments in New York. New York draws a large distinction between out-of-state judgments obtained on the merits and those obtained on default.

The court does not ask why the creditor seeks domestication in New York. In most cases, it’s because the judgment debtor maintains assets within New York.

We outlined the process for domesticating a judgment in New York but thought an in-depth discussion might be helpful for the out-of-state practitioner preparing their files for forwarding to domesticate an out-of-state default judgment in New York.

Getting the Process Started

Rather than ask for the bare minimum at the outset, we anticipate questions and issues that can arise when domesticating out-of-state default judgments in New York. It’s better for us to have the information in advance so we can be proactive rather than reactive. We don’t want to risk the clerk not recognizing the out-of-state judgment.

Therefore, we ask for documents we know are required to enter a judgment. This includes:

  1. A signed engagement letter between our firm and the contracting attorney or creditor
  2. A retainer, if any, together with the requisite costs
  3. An exemplified copy of the judgment. (The exemplification is good for only 90 days in New York. If the exemplification of the judgment is past 90 days, you will need a new one.)
  4. Local statute as it relates to service of process and copies of the affidavits of service
  5. Local statute as it relates to the statute of limitation
  6. Copies of the relevant underlying pleadings
  7. Amount paid to satisfy the judgment

One of the most common defenses when defending an action to domesticate an out-of-state judgment is improper service. We need to affirm to the court that the defendant(s) were served in accordance with the local statute providing for service. The other defense is that the defendant was not in the originating court’s jurisdiction. The New York court doesn’t need to refer the case back to the sister state for adjudication on the two issues. It can decide them here in New York.

When submitting a judgment to the court for entry, we are required to submit an affirmation to the clerk attesting to the fact that the underlying action and judgment were brought within the state’s statute of limitations.

We ask for copies of the underlying pleadings because, in some instances, the judgment may not contain the plaintiff or defendant’s address or other information that might be needed to get the “job done.” Having the correct information limits the back and forth email communication thereby speeding the process.

We will need to specifically state in the complaint the amount paid to partially satisfy the judgment and/or whether the judgment remains wholly unsatisfied. Without this information, the complaint will fail.

The documents can be sent to us via email, Dropbox, or by linking to the local court’s website.

If you are seeking counsel experienced in domesticating judgments, contact Frank, Frank, Goldstein & Nager. We have the experience that pays.