FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2016-07214,
DIVISION "J" Honorable Paula A. Brown, Judge
Michael A. Crawford Vincent V. Tumminello, III TAYLOR PORTER
BROOKS & PHILLIPS, L.L.P. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.
K. Salas, III SALAS & CO., L.C. COUNSEL FOR
composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Sandra Cabrina
Jenkins, Judge Regina Bartholomew Woods).
L. Belsome Judge.
appeal challenges the ruling to give full faith and credit to
two judgments rendered by the United States District Court
for the Western District of Washington (Federal District
Court). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
Appellee, Greenfield Advisors, LLC (Greenfield) is a
Seattle-based company. The Appellants contracted with
Greenfield to provide consulting services for various legal
cases. Greenfield maintained that pursuant to the
service contract entered into by the parties the fees owed
for the consulting work was approximately $700, 000.00. The
Appellants only paid a portion of that amount and Greenfield
filed suit in King County, Washington and the Appellants
removed the case to the Federal District Court. Then, the
Appellants filed a motion to dismiss, disputing jurisdiction
and service. The motion was denied. At that time, the
Appellants moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the
arbitration clause in the service contract.
arbitrator awarded Greenfield $331, 316.48, plus pre-award
interest of $163, 514.79, and post-award interest at 18%.
Greenfield filed a motion with the Federal District Court to
confirm the award. The Appellants again raised a
jurisdictional argument that was denied and the Federal
District Court confirmed the award and rendered
judgment. The Appellants have filed an appeal of
those judgments in the United States Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeal. No bond was posted to stay the enforcement of the
Greenfield filed an Ex-Parte Petition to Make
Foreign Judgments Executory in Civil District Court for the
Parish of Orleans (State District Court) pursuant to the
Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, La. R.S.
13:4241 et seq. In response to the Petition, the Appellants
filed several exceptions and a motion requesting the State
District Court to deny full faith and credit of the Federal
District Court judgments. The State District Court held a
hearing on the Appellants' exceptions, motion to deny
full faith and credit, and Greenfield's petition to make
the judgments executory. After hearing the arguments of the
parties, the State District Court denied the exceptions,
denied the Appellants' motion and granted full faith and
credit to the judgments. This appeal followed.
appeal, the Appellants argue that the State District Court
erred in giving full faith and credit to the judgments
rendered by the Federal District Court because the Federal
District Court lacked subject matter and personal
jurisdiction. The Appellants further maintain that the State
District Court was required to address the merits of the
jurisdictional argument prior to granting full faith and
credit to the judgments. We disagree.
well settled that the Full Faith and Credit Clause, Article
IV, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States,
mandates that judgments have the same credit, validity, and
effect in every other state of the United States that it has
in the state where it is pronounced. However, the Full Faith and
Credit Clause further directs that full faith and credit only
be afforded to judgments rendered by a court that had
jurisdiction over the subject matter and the
person. The Louisiana Supreme Court discussed this
issue in Schultz v. Doyle. In Schultz, Gayle
Shultz filed suit in a Texas court and secured a money
judgment against Louisiana residents Mr. and Mrs. Doyle. Ms.
Schultz then sought to have the judgment made executory in
Louisiana. The Doyles opposed the judgment being
given full faith and credit in Louisiana based on their
contention that the Texas court lacked personal jurisdiction.
However, the Doyles had hired an attorney to defend the Texas
suit. That attorney filed a pleading to challenge
jurisdiction but later withdrew that pleading and filed an
answer to the suit. The court reasoned that through those
actions the Doyles had waived their objection to personal
jurisdiction and thus, the issue was res judicata to
Louisiana courts. Therefore, the Texas judgment had to be
accorded full faith and credit in Louisiana. In reaching its
conclusion, the Court stated that the Doyles had the option
to ignore the Texas proceeding, risk a default judgment, and
then challenge the jurisdictional issue in Louisiana. But,
once the Doyles submitted to the jurisdiction of the Texas
court, the jurisdictional issue became res judicata
in any further proceedings.
the Appellants insist that Schultz requires a
hearing on the merits of the foreign court's jurisdiction
or lack thereof, the inquiry that is required is merely a
determination "'that those questions [as to
jurisdiction] have been fully and fairly litigated and
finally decided in the court which rendered the original
judgment."' The record before the State District Court
provided the procedural history in this case which indicated
that the Appellants raised the jurisdictional issue in the
Federal District Court on more than one occasion. In each
challenge the Federal District Court rejected the
Appellants' argument. The record also indicates that the
Appellants have appealed the Federal District Court's
ruling on the issue of jurisdiction. The State District
Court, recognizing that the jurisdictional issue had been
litigated and is presently on appeal, correctly found that
those decisions are res judicata on the issue. For
that reason, the State District Court's ruling that the
judgments against the Appellants were entitled to full faith
and credit in this state is affirmed.