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Reliable Credit Association, Inc. v. Safa, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

June 24, 2019

SAFA, INC., Appellant.


          Eberly McMahon Copetas LLC, Robert A. McMahon, for appellee.

          Timothy R. Evans, for appellant.


          HENDRICKSON, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, SAFA, Inc. dba Mo Auto Sales ("SAFA"), appeals from the decision of Butler County Court of Common Pleas denying its motion to dismiss a foreign judgment. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} In July 2017, appellee, Reliable Credit Association, Inc. ("Reliable Credit") received a default judgment against SAFA in the Clackamas County Circuit Court located in Oregon. The judgment against SAFA was in the amount of $8, 845 plus interest, costs, and attorney fees. Several months later, in October 2017, Reliable Credit filed the foreign judgment in the Butler County Common Pleas Court ("trial court") as provided for by R.C. 2329.022. Three days later, notice of the foreign judgment was sent to SAFA in accordance with R.C. 2329.023. In that notice, the trial court informed SAFA that the foreign judgment was filed by Reliable Credit and that "[execution may issue on this Judgment thirty (30) days after the above date."

         {¶ 3} Thereafter, in December 2017, Reliable Credit filed an Affidavit, Order and Notice of Garnishment with the trial court. The garnishment affidavit stated SAFA owed Reliable Credit $10, 915.53 and named Fifth Third Bank as the garnishee. Along with the affidavit, a Notice to Judgment Debtor was also filed with the trial court, which notified SAFA that the trial court had issued an order in favor of Reliable Credit, and that some of its funds at Fifth Third Bank would be used to satisfy its debt to Reliable Credit. The notice also included the following disclosure:

If you dispute [Reliable Credit's] right to garnish your property and believe that h [sic] should not be given your money, property or credits * * * now in the possession of [Fifth Third Bank, ] because they are exempt or feel that this order is improper for any other reason, you may request a hearing before this court by disputing the claim in the request for hearing form * * * and delivering the request for hearing to this court at the above address. * * * If you request a hearing, the hearing will be limited to a consideration of the amount of your money, property, or credits, other than personal earnings, in the possession or control of [Fifth Third Bank], if any, that can be used to satisfy all or part of the judgement you owe to [Reliable Credit]. No objections to the judgment itself will be heard or considered at any hearing. (Emphasis added).

         The garnishment notice and affidavit were served upon SAFA.

         {¶ 4} In January 2018, SAFA requested a hearing regarding the garnishment. In its request, SAFA indicated it disputed Reliable Credit's right to garnish SAFA's property for the following reasons: it had not received notice of the Oregon foreign judgment; there was no service of the Oregon lawsuit upon SAFA; Reliable Credit knowingly used SAFAs incorrect address; and SAFA only received the garnishment from Fifth Third. SAFA signed and confirmed that it understood no objections to the judgment itself would be heard or considered at the hearing.

         {¶ 5} After a hearing before the magistrate, the trial court found that SAFA failed to demonstrate that Reliable Credit sought funds that were statutorily exempt. The trial court further noted that SAFA attempted to collaterally attack the judgment out of Oregon, but the garnishment was to stand. SAFA did not file any objections to that decision.

         {¶ 6} Thereafter, in April 2018, the Clackamas County Circuit Court informed the trial court that the judgment was fully paid and satisfied. As such, the trial court filed an entry of satisfaction.

         {¶ 7} Several months later, in September 2018, SAFA filed a motion to dismiss the foreign judgment. In its motion, SAFA argued the default judgment was invalid and void because SAFA was never served with the Oregon lawsuit, and therefore, the Clackamas County Circuit Court did not have personal jurisdiction over SAFA. The trial court denied SAFAs motion, finding that "[a]ny basis for voiding the judgment should have been presented and preserved prior to the entry of garnishment[.]" The trial court further indicated it was not inclined to disrupt the finality of judgment that came with the satisfaction of the judgment.

         {¶ 8} SAFA now appeals, raising one ...

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