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November 27 2018

COLLECTING FOREIGN JUDGMENTS IN WEST VIRGINIA

You have filed a lawsuit and obtained a judgment against a party who lives in and has assets in West Virginia. Your judgment, however, was obtained in a nearby state. Can you enforce your judgment in West Virginia? Do you have to relitigate your case in West Virginia? Luckily, you can enforce your judgment in West Virginia without having to relitigate the issues in this state thanks to the full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution. Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States requires each state to give full faith and credit to the official acts and judgments of every other state. In fulfilling the spirit of the full faith and credit clause, West Virginia has adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgment Act which is codified in Chapter 55, Article 14 of the West Virginia Code.

You have obtained your judgment, so you just take the judgment and record it, right? Well, it is not a simple as just recording the judgment with either the Circuit Clerk or the County Clerk. Failing to properly authenticate the judgment and notify the debtor, the individual or entity whom you obtained a judgment against, could mean subjecting yourself to liability for actual damages in addition to a statutory penalty of up to $1,000.00. Willfully violating the requirements of authentication and notice could also result in criminal charges being filed against you. Thus, it is imperative that the proper procedure be followed when filing your foreign judgment and taking action to collect on the judgment.

First, a copy of the foreign judgment authenticated in accordance with an act of Congress or a statute of West Virginia needs to be filed with the Circuit Clerk of the County where the collection actions will occur. This requires that the judgment be attested to by the “clerk, and the seal of the court annexed, if there be a seal, together with a certificate of the judge, chief judge, or presiding magistrate, that the said attestation is in due form.” See, W. Va. Code §57-1-12. This requires certification by both the clerk and the presiding judge of the court which issued the foreign judgment. Obtaining just a certified copy by the clerk will not be sufficient, and if collection actions are taken, you could be liable for damages and a civil penalty. Again, willfully violating this requirement could subject you to a criminal penalty.

Second, after a properly authenticated judgment is obtained, it will need to be filed with the Circuit Court along with an affidavit setting forth the name and last known post-office address of the debtor along with the name of the creditor, which may be you. Thereafter, the clerk will mail notice of the filing to the debtor at the address provided. You can mail notice of the filing to the debtor if you desire and file proof of the mailing with the clerk. Once the judgment is filed, you must wait thirty (30) days before beginning enforcement proceedings to collect on the judgment. Such proceedings may include issuing a writ of execution or a suggestee execution. It is important to note that when seeking to enforce the judgment, property which may have been identified as exempt in the state where the original judgment was entered is still exempt in West Virginia and must be specified as exempt on any petition or filings for enforcement.

If you would like to discuss enforcing and collecting a foreign judgment in West Virginia, you can contact Hilary M. Bright at our Kingwood Office at hbright@wvlawyers.com or via telephone at 304-329-0773.

Who We Are

McNeer, Highland, McMunn and Varner, L.C. has been providing legal representation throughout the State of West Virginia since its inception in 1913. Not only has the firm met the needs of its diverse clientele, but we continue to exceed expectations in all aspects of our legal representation.

What We Do

The firm is a full service law firm with talented attorneys focused on all areas of law. For over 100 years, McNeer, Highland, McMunn and Varner, L.C. has been serving the legal needs of West Virginians. With this strong history of exceptional legal work, the firm continues to maintain a competitive edge in the legal market. Our cadre of impressive legal minds is able to keep us on the cutting edge of the law. The firm currently, as well as historically, continues to maintain an AV rating by Martindale Hubbell.

Where We Are

We have expanded our legal services over the years to meet the demands of our clientele and are able to service our clients in and throughout the State of West Virginia, as well as Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio. Currently, the firm has four offices strategically located throughout West Virginia. In addition to the Clarksburg law office which continues to be the firm’s central location, we have offices in Parkersburg, and Kingwood.

Why Us?

It is important for us to provide the highest quality of legal representation to our clients. We also want to serve our communities so that we have better places in which to live and work. McNeer, Highland, McMunn and Varner built its reputation on trust, service and relationships in an ever-changing world. These values continue to be the cornerstone of the firm as we enter our second century of service.

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“McNeer, Highland, McMunn & Varner LC is well-known for meeting the challenges of its clientele in a very straightforward manner while maintaining a close attorney-client relationship. The attorneys on staff provide dedication to detail and professionalism to each client in a variety of practice areas. We are large enough to handle all your legal needs, and small enough to care.”

– James N. Riley (Director/President)