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Liuksila v. Stoll

December 8, 2005

AARNO O. LIUKSILA, APPELLANT
v.
JUTTA STOLL, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia PS-3346-97 Hon. Hiram E. Puig-Lugo, Trial Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terry, Associate Judge

Submitted November 4, 2004

Before TERRY, Associate Judge, and FERREN and NEBEKER, Senior Judges.

This case concerns a German child support order ("the German order"), issued in 1997, which was registered in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia under the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act ("URESA"), D.C. Code §§ 30-341.1 et seq. (1997) (revised and recodified as the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act ("UIFSA"), D.C. Code §§ 46-301.01 et seq. (2001)). By the terms of that order, appellant Aarno Liuksila was directed to pay support arrears to appellee Jutta Stoll, whose daughter Liisa Stoll is the child whose support is at issue.*fn1 Mr. Liuksila has consistently challenged the authority of both the District of Columbia courts and the German courts to require him to pay what he owes. He has spent several years trying to avoid his child support obligations by filing repetitive and often baseless motions challenging the various orders issued by the Superior Court hearing commissioners*fn2 and trial judges assigned to this case. This appeal is taken from the trial court's order of August 12, 2003, directing Mr. Liuksila to pay his support arrears in full. We affirm that order.

I.

A document from the German Institute for Guardianship ("GIG"), dated August 22, 1997, states in pertinent part:

Plaintiff prays for an order of the court that . . . Defendant be directed to pay the support arrears for the Plaintiff in an amount of DM 124,550.60 = $75,841.98 for the period of February 1, 1986, until August 31, 1997. Payments are to be made to the German Institute of Guardianship. Monthly installment payments of $150.00 are granted.

The document also states that Mr. Liuksila is responsible for monthly child support payments of "DM 1,059 = $576" as of September 1, 1997.*fn3 Before the German order was registered in the District of Columbia, two default judgments for child support payments had been entered against Mr. Liuksila by a local court in Darmstadt, Germany, the first on March 14, 1991, and the second on July 20, 1994. In each instance, Mr. Liuksila was duly served in accordance with German law, but failed to appear in court. On February 23, 1995, the German court entered an attachment order based on the default judgments.

Two years later, the GIG learned that Mr. Liuksila was living in Washington, D.C. Accordingly, on or about December 1, 1997, the GIG submitted the document described above to the Interstate Unit of the Office of Paternity and Child Support Enforcement of the District of Columbia, seeking registration of the support order. The registration request outlined the amount due in arrearages, as well as the amount due for future child support payments. The Superior Court then sent a notice of registration to Mr. Liuksila at his District of Columbia residence.*fn4

Mr. Liuksila responded by requesting a hearing. In his request he stated that, although he had received the notice of registration in the District of Columbia, he had in fact moved to Finland in 1997, and merely happened to be in the District on sabbatical when he received the notice. At a hearing in March 1998, Hearing Commissioner Hugh Stevenson found that Mr. Liuksila was a resident of Finland and ruled that the Superior Court therefore lacked jurisdiction to issue a support order under UIFSA. He also held that both UIFSA and the District of Columbia's long-arm statute required at least one of the parties to be a resident of the District in order to establish jurisdiction here. Since neither Mr. Liuksila nor Ms. Stoll lived here, Commissioner Stevenson dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.

Ms. Stoll filed a motion for review of the hearing commissioner's ruling by a Superior Court judge, pursuant to D.C. Code § 11-1732 (k); Mr. Liuksila did not oppose the motion. Upon review, Judge Russell Canan reversed the commissioner's decision in an opinion dated July 16, 1999.*fn5 He ruled that UIFSA does not require continuing and exclusive jurisdiction for the registration and enforcement of a foreign support order; that Mr. Liuksila had waived any claim that the German court lacked jurisdiction when he failed to contest that court's jurisdiction in his initial response; and that the Superior Court therefore had jurisdiction over him. Accordingly, Judge Canan ordered the registration, confirmation, and enforcement of the German order. Mr. Liuksila did not appeal from Judge Canan's decision. The case was sent back to Commissioner Stevenson, who registered the German support order on August 5, 1999, as a valid court order in the District of Columbia.

On December 7, 1999, a writ of attachment was served on the Bank Fund Staff Federal Credit Union, directing it to garnish $37,607.53 from Mr. Liuksila's account.*fn6 In response, Mr. Liuksila filed an emergency motion to quash the writ of attachment. He argued that the amount garnished was excessive, in light of the $150 monthly installment plan set forth in the German order,*fn7 and that in any event he owed the child support money to the GIG, not to Ms. Stoll. Ms. Stoll in turn requested a judgment of condemnation against funds in Mr. Liuksila's bank account. At that time, Mr. Liuksila owed approximately $95,763.53 in arrears and current child support payments. Hearing Commissioner Jerry Byrd denied Mr. Liuksila's emergency motion on January 11, 2000. He stated that Jutta Stoll had been authorized by the GIG to pursue the claim and collect payments,*fn8 and that Judge Canan's July 1999 order had fully addressed all issues regarding the service, registration, and enforcement of the German order. Commissioner Byrd adopted Judge Canan's findings on those issues.

In response to Commissioner Byrd's order, Mr. Liuksila filed a motion entitled "Reconsideration of Motion to Quash Writ of Attachment; Dismissal for Invalidity of Registered Order for Initiating Court's Lack of Personal Jurisdiction; Return of Order as Defendant Derives No Earnings or Other Income In the District; Request for Rehearing and Stay for Sixty Days in Favor of Helsinki Court; and, If Not, Removal to Federal Court." This motion, however, merely expanded upon arguments already addressed and rejected by both Judge Canan and Commissioner Byrd. Ms. Stoll opposed the motion. After further pleadings were filed, Commissioner Byrd denied Mr. Liuksila's motion to reconsider. In his order, Commissioner Byrd elaborated on the jurisdictional issues addressed in Judge Canan's opinion, made a ruling as to the proper exchange rate, rejected Mr. Liuksila's contention that the German order limited arrearage payments to $150 per month, and denied Mr. Liuksila's request to remove the action to federal court, holding that the Superior Court has exclusive jurisdiction over child support matters in the District of Columbia. Commissioner Byrd then granted Ms. Stoll's request for a judgment of condemnation.

On Mr. Liuksila's motion for review, Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo affirmed Commissioner Byrd's order denying Mr. Liuksila's motion to quash the writ of attachment, ordered him to pay attorney's fees (which Ms. Stoll had requested) because of his "repetitive," "frivolous," and "abusive" pleadings, and ordered the Clerk of the Court to refuse to accept any filing or future submission from Mr. Liuksila unless there was a written order from the court authorizing it to ...


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