Cocchia v. Testa, No. 1 CA-CV 22-0571 (App. Div. I, September 12, 2023) (J. Catlett) https://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/0/OpinionFiles/Div1/2023/CV%2022-0571%20Cocchia.pdf
DEFENDANT CAN RAISE LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION IN STATE WHERE JUDGMENT IS OBTAINED OR IN THE STATE WHERE ENFORCEMENT OF THE JUDGMENT IS SOUGHT BUT A JUDICIAL DETERMINATION THAT THERE WAS PERSONAL JURISDICTION TO SUPPORT THE JUDGMENT IN THE FOREIGN STATE, REQUIRES THE STATE OF ENFORCEMENT GIVE FULL FAITH AND CREDIT TO THAT DETERMINATION REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE DEFENDANT RAISES NEW GROUNDS FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION FOR FIRST TIME IN STATE OF ENFORCEMENT/
Plaintiff Judgement Creditor obtains judgment against defendant. Defendant Judgment Debtor raises defenses of lack of personal jurisdiction—lack of service or process. The Connecticut court finds service was proper and that it had personal jurisdiction over defendant. Plaintiff then seeks to enforce the judgment in Arizona where defendant raises for the first time the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction based upon the absence of “minimum contacts” in Connecticut.
The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1 requires states recognize judgments from other states. In Arizona, the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act was adopted by the state legislature at A.R.S. § 12-1702, which effectively requires the same thing.
That said, one state is not required to honor the judgment from another state where that state lacked jurisdiction to create the judgement. Where a defendant believes, as here, that personal jurisdiction is lacking, it may raise its jurisdictional defense where the judgment is sought [Connecticut] or in the state where the plaintiff is attempting to enforce the judgment[Arizona]. If the defendant chooses the former issue preclusion bars her from later raising the defense in the state where enforcement is sought.
Here the defendant asserted the defense of lack of proper service of process In Connecticut to defeat personal jurisdiction. The Connecticut court ruled there was proper service and therefore proper personal jurisdiction. The defendant argues that there are other “substantive” personal jurisdictional issues it did not raise in Connecticut that it now wants to assert in the Arizona court—lack of minimum contacts.
The lack of personal jurisdiction is a defense not a claim. Hence principals of “issue preclusion” and not “claim preclusion” apply.
A party using defensive issue preclusion must satisfy four requirements:
“(1) the issue at stake is the same in both proceedings; (2) the issue
was actually litigated and determined in a valid and final judgment
issued by a tribunal with competent jurisdiction; (3) the opposing
party had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue and actually
did so; and (4) the issue was essential to the judgment.”. . .
Trustee lost on a personal jurisdiction defense in the Connecticut action
because of sufficient service of process. Thus, he cannot here re-assert
a personal jurisdiction defense, “whether or not on the basis of arguments
made in the [Connecticut] action.” Restatement (Second) Judgments
§ 27 cmt. c; accord Barassi v. Matison, 134 Ariz. 338, 341 (App. 1982)
(explaining that issue preclusion applies even if “legal arguments
which could have been presented were not”). Trustee cannot
write off his personal jurisdiction loss in Connecticut
on grounds that he made a different subsidiary argument. If the
Connecticut judgment is unenforceable in Arizona, it cannot be because the
Connecticut courts lacked personal jurisdiction.