Erieblogging: Day One
Erieblogging: Day Two

Essay Question 6 from this Year's CivPro Exam

Here is Essay Question 6 (36 points), with an answer:

D’s taxidermy service is smelling up P’s property next door. Both D’s and P’s property are located in California. P is a domiciliary of New York and D is a domiciliary of California. While D is visiting New Jersey, P calls D at his hotel and pretends to be a hotel employee offering him free tickets to a musical in New York City. The tickets, P tells D, will be waiting at the theater. When D appears at the theater in New York, P has him served for a suit in New York state court. P’s suit is for an injunction to get D to shut down his taxidermy service. Under New York state law, a state court can assert personal jurisdiction over someone lured into the state by fraud. D fails to respond to P’s suit and so defaults. P then asks the New York state court to issue the requested injunctive relief, which the court does. Under New York state law a defendant who violates an injunction can be fined or imprisoned until he complies.

D does not comply with the injunction. P then sues on the New York judgment in California state court, asking that the court put D in prison until he complies with the New York injunction. D appears and challenges the validity of the New York judgment for lack of personal jurisdiction. Under California state law, a state court may not assert personal jurisdiction over someone lured into the state by fraud.  Furthermore, D argues that even if the New York judgment is valid, California has no obligation to enforce the New York injunction. Finally D argues that even if the California court does have an obligation to enforce the New York injunction, it can do so only through the threat of fines, not imprisonment, because under California law a court can cannot imprison someone for failing to abide by an injunction. 

How should the California court rule?

 

ANSWER

This was a difficult question with novel issues. What I expected you to do was use what you know from class to hazard a guess. I did not expect you to come to a particular answer. The following (in italics) would have been ideal:

Under the Full Faith and Credit (FF&C) Clause of Article IV the California court must give the New York judgment the same preclusive effect it would have in a New York state court. That means that it must use New York’s law on whether there was PJ over D, unless that law is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. As was discussed in the book and in class, under Pennoyer, a state’s asserting in personam jurisdiction over a defendant when the defendant was lured into the state by fraud is constitutional. The state’s power over D in such case would seem to follow from the power theory of PJ in Pennoyer.

On the other hand, things are arguably different due to Burnham. In his opinion in Burnham, Justice Scalia argued that there is PJ in state court under the 14th Amendment if there would have been PJ under Pennoyer and the method of PJ is still generally used by the states today. As was mentioned in the book and in class, few states in fact choose to assert PJ over defendants lured into the state by fraud. So I think Scalia would hold NY’s PJ law unconstitutional. Furthermore, Brennan would agree. In his opinion in Burnham, Brennan argued that methods of PJ have to satisfy Int’l Shoe. Shoe looks to whether a defendant created an obligation to return to the forum state by willing reaching out to that state and getting the protection of its laws. People lured into a state by fraud arguably do not willingly reach out to that state.

[Here I would expect you to come to a conclusion on the matter. I didn’t care how you came out, but you were rewarded if you recognized the relevance of Burnham.]

But let us assume that the judgment is valid. Is there any argument that the California court does not have to enforce the NY injunction? The FF&C Clause would appear to obligate the California court to enforce the NY injunction, unless it matters for FF&C purposes that the NY judgment is an injunction rather than a money judgment. It is true that all the examples of FF&C discussed in class and in the book have concerned money judgments. Furthermore, D might argue that all the California court has to do under the FF&C Clause is respect the fact that there is a final valid NY judgment concerning the nuisance action, for example, by precluding P or D from bringing a new suit in California courts about the matter. The California court arguably does not have to help the NY court effectuate its injunction. After all, if D violates the injunction P can get the NY court to fine D or throw him in jail.

[Here I would expect you to come to a conclusion. In fact the furthest most of you got on the matters was to recognize that we had never discussed FF&C for injunctions. You were rewarded for recognizing this fact and rewarded even more for hazarding some argument about why injunctions should be treated the same as or different from money judgments for FF&C purposes. Those interested in this issue should look at Baker v. General Motors Corp. - 522 U.S. 222 (1998).]

Finally, assuming that the California court must enforce the injunction, does it have to use NY procedures on how the injunction is enforced? We know from class that even though a forum state court must enforce a sister state money judgment, it can use forum state law on how the money judgment is enforced. The cause of action is under the forum state’s debt collection law. So arguably the same thing applies here. P’s action in California state court is under CA’s law for enforcing injunctions. So CA law should be used on how injunctions are enforced. D cannot be put in prison by the CA court.

[Here too you were rewarded for coming up with some argument concerning this issue on the basis of what you knew about enforcement of sister state money judgments. Making any effort here was richly rewarded.]

 

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