The ultimate goal of an action for damages is collection. The judgment is just a piece of paper, and if you’re the plaintiff you need to have a plan to get from judgment to execution.
Today’s case of the day, Cutting Edge Technologies, Inc. v. Nosyuiaido (D. Md. 2012), is a great example. Cutting Edge had sued Nosyuiaido, a Japanese national, for breach of contract and unfair competition. In 2002, the US District Court in Maryland entered a default judgment in favor of Cutting Edge for more than $1.5 million. But Cutting Edge either couldn’t or wouldn’t attempt to enforce the judgment in Japan. Instead, it waited for a decade, until it got wind that Nosyuiaido was to have some of its martial arts equipment on display at Concordia College in Minnesota. Cutting Edge obtained a writ of execution from the clerk of the court in Maryland and delivered it to the Marshal in Minnesota, who seized the equipment.
Bradley Anderson, a third party, claimed that the equipment was his, not Nosyuiaido’s, and moved to quash the writ. The judge did not need to decide the issue of ownership to decide the motion, because there was a simpler dispositive issue: under Rule 4.1, process such as a writ of execution can be served only “within the territorial limits of the state where the district court is located and, if authorized by a federal statute, beyond those limits.” In short, a court in Maryland cannot issue a writ of execution to seize property in Minnesota. Cutting Edge should have registered the judgment in Minnesota and then obtained a writ of execution there.