TROPIC LEISURE CORP., MAGEN POINT, INC. d/b/a MAGENS POINT RESORT, Plaintiffs,
JERRY A. HAILEY, Defendant.
by defendant from order entered 10 September 2015 by Judge
Debra Sasser in Wake County District Court No. 15 CVD 2244.
Heard in the Court of Appeals 25 May 2016. Opinion filed 16
August 2016. Petition for rehearing granted 30 September
2016. The following opinion supersedes and replaces the
opinion filed 16 August 2016.
Warren, Shackleford & Thomas, P.L.L.C., by R. Keith
Shackleford, for plaintiffs-appellees.
Armstrong Law Firm, P.A., by L. Lamar Armstrong, Jr. and
Daniel K. Keeney, for defendant-appellant.
case presents the question of whether a North Carolina court
must give full faith and credit to a judgment rendered in a
foreign jurisdiction under procedural rules prohibiting the
defendant from being represented by counsel at trial. Jerry
A. Hailey ("Defendant") appeals from an order
denying his motion for relief from a foreign judgment that
Tropic Leisure Corp. and Magens Point, Inc., d/b/a Magens Point
Resort (collectively "Plaintiffs") sought to
enforce against him in North Carolina. On appeal, Defendant
argues that the foreign judgment should not be enforced
because it was rendered in violation of his due process
rights. After careful review, we vacate the trial court's
and Procedural Background
April 2014, Plaintiffs, who are corporations organized under
the laws of the United States Virgin Islands, obtained a
default judgment (the "Judgment") in the small
claims division of the Virgin Islands Superior Court against
Defendant, who is a resident of North Carolina, in the amount
of $5, 764.00 plus interest and costs. Defendant did not
appeal the default judgment. On 17 February 2015, Plaintiffs
filed a Notice of Filing Foreign Judgment in Wake County
District Court along with a copy of the Judgment and a
filed a motion for relief from foreign judgment on 6 April
2015 in which he argued that the Judgment was not entitled to
full faith and credit in North Carolina because it was
obtained in violation of his constitutional rights and was
against North Carolina public policy. Plaintiffs subsequently
filed a motion to enforce the foreign judgment.
parties' motions were heard before the Honorable Debra
Sasser on 30 July 2015. On 10 September 2015, the trial court
entered an order denying Defendant's motion for relief
and concluding that Plaintiffs were entitled to enforcement
of the Judgment under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the
United States Constitution, U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1,
and North Carolina's Uniform Enforcement of Foreign
Judgments Act ("UEFJA"), N.C. Gen. Stat.
§§ 1C-1701 et seq. Defendant filed a
timely notice of appeal.
appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred in
extending full faith and credit to the Judgment. This issue
involves a question of law, which we review de novo.
See DOCRX, Inc. v. EMI Servs. of N.C., LLC, 367 N.C.
371, 375, 758 S.E.2d 390, 393, cert. denied, ___
U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 678, 190 L.Ed.2d 390 (2014) (applying
de novo review to whether Full Faith and Credit
Clause required North Carolina to enforce foreign judgment).
Full Faith and Credit Clause "requires that the judgment
of the court of one state must be given the same effect in a
sister state that it has in the state where it was
rendered." State of New York v. Paugh, 135
N.C.App. 434, 439, 521 S.E.2d 475, 478 (1999) (citation
omitted). "[B]ecause a foreign state's judgment is
entitled to only the same validity and effect in a sister
state as it had in the rendering state, the foreign judgment
must satisfy the requisites of a valid judgment under the
laws of the rendering state before it will be afforded full
faith and credit." Bell Atl. Tricon Leasing Corp. v.
Johnnie's Garbage Serv., Inc., 113 N.C.App. 476,
478-79, 439 S.E.2d 221, 223, disc. review denied,
336 N.C. 314, 445 S.E.2d 392 (1994).
UEFJA "governs the enforcement of foreign judgments that
are entitled to full faith and credit in North
Carolina." Lumbermans Fin., LLC v. Poccia, 228
N.C.App. 67, 70, 743 S.E.2d 677, 679 (2013) (citation and
quotation marks omitted). In order to domesticate a foreign
judgment under the UEFJA, a party must file a properly
authenticated foreign judgment with the office of the clerk
of superior court in any North Carolina county along with an
affidavit attesting to the fact that the foreign judgment is
both final and unsatisfied in whole or in part and setting
forth the amount remaining to be paid on the judgment.
See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1C-1703(a) (2015).
introduction into evidence of these materials
"establishes a presumption that the judgment is entitled
to full faith and credit." Meyer v. Race City
Classics, LLC, 235 N.C.App. 111, 114, 761 S.E.2d 196,
200, disc. review denied, 367 N.C. 796, 766 S.E.2d
624 (2014). The party seeking to defeat enforcement of the
foreign judgment must "present evidence to rebut the
presumption that the judgment is enforceable . . . ."
Rossi v. Spoloric, ___ N.C.App. ___, ___, 781 S.E.2d
648, 654 (2016). A properly filed foreign judgment
"has the same effect and is subject to the same defenses
as a judgment of this State and shall be enforced or
satisfied in like manner[.]" N.C. Gen. Stat. §
1C-1703(c). Thus, a judgment debtor may file a motion for
relief from the foreign judgment on any "ground for
which relief from a judgment of this State would be
allowed." N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1C-1705(a) (2015).
Supreme Court has held that "the defenses preserved
under North Carolina's UEFJA are limited by the Full
Faith and Credit Clause to those defenses which are directed
to the validity and enforcement of a foreign judgment."
DOCRX, 367 N.C. at 382, 758 S.E.2d at 397. In
DOCRX, the Supreme Court provided the ...