Relying on the law in international litigation, the District Court in Massachusetts addressed the issue which court was obliged to determine whether the court entering a judgment had the requisite personal jurisdiction. Kulik v. Bronstein, MBD No. 09-10264-PBS (D. Mass. 2011). At issue in the case was whether a Rhode Island court or a Massachusetts court should make the decision. The District Court analyzed one of the leading cases in the area, Indian Head Bank of Nashua v. Brunelle, 689 F.2d 245 (1st Cir. 1982). The case “clearly permits the court in which the foreign judgment is registered to decide a claims of lack of personal jurisdiction by the court which entered the judgment, it does not state that the court of registration is the only forum in which the issue can be raised”.
Finding the matter commited to its discretion, where the cour must “balance ‘[j]udicial efficiency and comity among district courts”, the Court here found that the court of putative enforcement should entertain the motion. The District Court so held based on two considerations: first, the Court relied “on the limited nature of the proceedings in the [judgment entering] court which would indicate” that judge’s familiarity with the merits of the case; and, second, “the issue does not present any particular issues of Rhode Island law”.
One might ask whether the analogy implictly drawn between a wholly domestic controversy and an international one is apt in all meaningful respects. Massachusetts and Rhode Island are literally next to each other geographically. Travel between the two is almost impossible to avoid. Can the same be said for countries half the globe apart? Can one predict that the parties would be indifferent or close to indifferent to going to the other end of the globe to test personal jurisdiction issues? Can one with confidence say that the judgment entering court would be available for that challenge under all circumstances?