Federal District Court Rules Rhode Island Law Applies To Attachment of Non-Rhode Island Property Owned By Non-Rhode Island Defendants

| Aug 5, 2013 | Firm News

Rhode Island’s federal district court has held that Rhode Island law on post-judgment attachments applies to plaintiff’s motion to attach property outside of Rhode Island owned by defendants who do not reside in Rhode Island.  The Court rejected defendants’ arguments that the laws of the state where the property is located or defendants reside should control.

Plaintiffs had obtained a 16 million pound judgment, The Governor and Company of the Bank of Scotland v. Wasserman, 2013 WL 941194 (D.R.I. Mar. 5, 2013).  They moved to attach defendants’ interests in various businesses and trusts.  Defendants objected on the grounds that the out-of-state assets were not subject to the court’s jurisdiction and that the law of the juridisctions where the assets or defendants were located should govern.

The Court said Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 69(a) establishes the procedure for enforcing a monetary judgment in federal court.  It in turn incorporates local state procedure.  Superior Court Rule 69(e) provides for attachments to enforce judgments.  A state statute permits attachments whenever the court had jurisdiction over the defendants or his or her assets.  Finally, Superior Court Rule 4(m)(3) permits attachments when there a probability of plaintiff obtaining a judgment and there is a need for security.  The court said so long as it had jurisdiction over the defendants it could hear the motion and the federal rule said it was to apply Rhode Island law.

The court granted plaintiffs’ motion for the attachment.  The Governor and Company of the Bank of Scotland v. Wasserman, C.A. No. 10-328-M, slip op., (D.R.I. August 1, 2013).

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