The Massachusetts legislature recently passed G.L.c.218, section 4A otherwise known as the Massachusetts Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act which provides for a more simple process for registering an unsatisfied judgment entered in another state by a creditor. Most importantly, the enforcement of an out of state judgment will now be available for out of state judgments as are available to Massachusetts' judgments. Here is what the new law allows an out of state judgment creditor to do:
A. A copy of any foreign judgment, as long as it is verified, may be filed in a district court where the judgment debtor resides or has a place of business at the time of filing.
B. At the time of filing of the foreign judgment the judgment creditor or his legal counsel is required to file an affidavit with the clerk's office setting forth the name and last known address of the judgment debtor.
C. The foreign judgment creditor may elect to have the clerk's office notify the judgment debtor by mail of the enforcement of the foreign judgment in Massachusetts. In certain cases, where the foreign judgment creditor is going to attach a debtor's bank account such notice would not be advisable as it would give notice to the debtor in advance that the creditor is now seeking enforcement. At no time does either a local or foreign judgment creditor ever want to give away advance notice particularly where the creditor may be seeking ex parte (without advance notice) relief in the form of either a bank account attachment or attachment of real estate.
D. If the foreign judgment creditor seeks to have his judgment converted into a Massachusetts judgment then the foreign judgment creditor must wait 30 days from the filing of the foreign judgment. From that point, a Massachusetts execution will issue and the creditor can seek to enforce the same in Massachusetts accordingly.
E. The fee for filing a foreign judgment is the same cost of filing a district court complaint which is $195.00.
F. If a foreign judgment creditor seeks to bring an action to enforce it's out of state judgment instead of proceeding under this section it may do so without any impairment of any rights and:
G. Massachusetts judgments, as well, will now be eligible for domestication in other states using that state's foreign judgment registration process. Prior to the passage of this new act, Massachusetts creditors could not avail themselves of this kind of relief.
As with any Massachusetts creditor, an out of state judgment creditor can avail itself to a host of creditor's remedies under Massachusetts law. The remedies available range from bank account attachments, wage garnishments, mechanics liens, attachments of real estate, and/or actions to reach and apply. As with any creditor's action, the successful enforcement relies on the availability of the debtor's assets and the quality of financial information obtained by the creditor about the debtor. For example, it is always advisable to have recent bank account information in the creditor "toolbox" so that when a judgment is sent to Massachusetts, the judgment can be enforced immediately and a bank account attached as a means of securing an out of state judgment.
Once a foreign judgment creditor has decided what route it wants to take, the Katz Law Group can assist in providing the best strategies to follow in enforcing that out of state judgment. We have been highly successful in getting our creditor clients what they deserve by using all of the available creditor's remedies that exist in Massachusetts. We have also been successful in getting reasonable attorney's fees awarded as part of any out of state enforcement. Please feel free to contact the Katz Law Group at 508-480-8202 to learn what we can do for you!