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MATUSEVITCH v. TELNIKOFF

January 27, 1995

VLADIMIR MATUSEVITCH, Plaintiff,
v.
VLADIMIR IVANOVICH TELNIKOFF, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICARDO M. URBINA

 MEMORANDUM ORDER Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment

 Upon consideration of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant's Opposition thereto, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff's Opposition thereto, Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss Defendant's Counterclaims or for Summary Judgment, and the briefs filed by amicus curiae, *fn1" the court grants summary judgment for the Plaintiff. The court finds that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact as 1) Maryland statutory law indicates that the defendant holds an unrecognized foreign judgment and 2) plaintiff's statement is considered by the Supreme Court to be protected speech under the First Amendment. Because recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment, based on libel standards that are repugnant to the public policies of the State of Maryland and the United States, would deprive the plaintiff of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, the court grants summary judgment for the plaintiff as a matter of law.

 I. Recognition of a Foreign Judgment

 A. The Uniform Foreign-Money Judgments Recognition Act of 1962 and the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act of 1964

 Before a party can enforce a judgment from a foreign country in the United States, the moving party must have the foreign judgment recognized by the state in which he is seeking to enforce the judgment. In the State of Maryland, the Uniform Foreign-Money Judgments Recognition Act of 1962 (the "Recognition Act") and the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act of 1964 (the "Enforcement Act") govern the procedure for the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment.

 The Recognition Act in MD. CODE ANN., CTS. & JUD. PROC. section 10-703 states: that

 
"except as provided in section 10-704, a foreign judgment meeting the requirements of section 10-702 is conclusive between the parties to the extent that it grants or denies recovery of a sum of money. The foreign judgment is enforceable in the same manner as the judgment of a sister state which is entitled to full faith and credit."

 Section 10-704 lists a number of grounds for non-recognition of a foreign judgment, four which are mandatory grounds and five which are discretionary grounds for non-recognition. Therefore, before a party can enforce a foreign-country judgment, the Recognition Act requires a proceeding to determine preliminarily whether the court should recognize the foreign-country judgment. See RESTATEMENT (THIRD) OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS LAW OF THE UNITED STATES section 481 cmt. g (1986) (noting that "enforcement of a debt arising out of a foreign judgment must be initiated by civil action, and the judgment creditor must establish a basis for the exercise of jurisdiction by the enforcing court over the judgment creditor or his property).

 Once the court recognizes the foreign-country judgment, the moving party can simply file that judgment in order to enforce it. Section 11-802 states that:

 
(a) Generally - (1)(i) Except as provided in subparagraphs (ii) and (iii) of this paragraph, a copy of any foreign judgment authenticated in accordance with an act of Congress or statutes of this State may be filed in the office of the clerk of a circuit court.
 
(2) The clerk shall treat the foreign judgment in the same manner as a judgment of the court in which the foreign judgment is filed.

 Filing a foreign-country judgment for enforcement purposes, however, remains contingent on the judgment's initial recognition. See Guinness PLC. v. Ward, 955 F.2d 875, 891 (4th Cir. 1992) (stating that "had Maryland not adopted the Uniform Recognition Act, we would certainly agree that under Maryland law the Uniform Enforcement Act is inapplicable to a judgment of a foreign country...we see no persuasive reason to conclude that the Uniform Enforcement Act is not applicable to a foreign country judgment once such judgment has been found to be entitled to recognition under the Uniform Recognition Act").

 Although the Enforcement Act allows a party to bypass the Recognition Act by merely filing a foreign judgment, it limits when a party can use this procedure. Section 11-801 of the Enforcement Act states that judgments entitled to full faith and credit may be filed under the Act; the Enforcement Act has narrowed the definition of "foreign judgment" to only judgments of U.S. federal courts or of the courts of sister states. See Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U.S. 113, 163-64, 182-88, 40 L. Ed. 95, 16 S. Ct. 139 (1895) (stating that ...


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