Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oxedine v. SLM Capital Corp. (Ct. of Special Appeals)

Filed: January 30, 2007--Opinion by Judge Timothy Meredith.

In the Supreme Court of the State of New York, SLM Capital Corporation, appellee, obtained a default judgment against Willie and Joan Oxendine, appellants, for $332,845.02. SLM recorded the foreign judgment against the Oxendines in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County. The Oxendines moved to vacate entry of the foreign judgment, and, in support of their motion, argued that the State of New York did not have sufficient contacts to exercise personal jurisdiction over them.

The circuit court ruled that the Oxendines had waived any challenge to personal jurisdiction by failing to raise the issue in the New York proceedings. Relying on Dixon v. Keeneland Associates, Inc., 91 Md. App. 308, the lower court stated that, under Dixon, "the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution precludes a party from attacking a decree on jurisdictional grounds [in] the courts of a sister state where the party was afforded full opportunity to contest the jurisdictional issues."

The Court of Special Appeals disagreed. It contrasted Dixon, in which the Maryland resident had actually litigated the jurisdictional issues in the out-of-state court, with the present case, where the issue of personal jurisdiction over the Oxendines was not even brought up, much less "fully adjudicated" in the foreign court.

Overruling the lower court's finding that the issue of personal jurisdiction was waived by the Oxendines' failure to participate in the New York proceedings, the Court of Special Appeals remanded the case to allow the circuit court to take evidence and inquire into whether the New York court had a sufficient basis to exercise long-arm jurisdiction over the Oxendines, under the principles enunciated in International Shoe. It further instructed the circuit court that, if it finds that the State of New York did not have a sufficient basis to exercise long-arm jurisdiction over the Oxendines, it must vacate the entry of the SLM judgment.

The full opinion is available in PDF here.

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