Case of the Day: Cermesoni v. Maneiro
Posted on August 11, 2014
The case of the day is Cermesoni v. Maneiro (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2014). Carolina Cermesoni Maneiro brought divorce proceedings against her husband, Jorge Raul Cermesoni, in Buenos Aires. Both spouses were Argentine nationals living in Argentina. The husband had bank accounts at Wells Fargo and Citibank in Miami. The wife sought issuance of a letter rogatory in the divorce case requesting the US courts to issue an injunction freezing half of the funds in the accounts, which, according to the husband, amounted to about $3 million. The circuit court in Miami obliged, but for security it required the wife only to post a $100 cash bond.
The husband moved unsuccessfully to increase the amount of the bond, and he then appealed. If the main case had been pending in the Florida courts, then a greater bond almost certainly would have been required. But the key, for the court, was that the Florida proceeding was ancillary to the Argentine proceeding, and it seems that under Argentine law, no bond would have been required. “If the foreign court which has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the non-resident parties does not deem it appropriate to impose a bond, we see no reason the Florida court should insinuate itself into the case and impose its own local requirement.”
One point in the case was a little odd. Apparently the Argentine court issued the letter rogatory under Inter-American Convention. But it seems clear that the Convention does not apply. Under Article 2, the Convention’s scope is limited to letters rogatory seeking “the performance of procedural acts of a merely formal nature, such as service of process, summonses or subpoenas abroad.” Article 3 provides: “This Convention shall not apply to letters rogatory relating to procedural acts other than those specified in the preceding article; and in particular it shall not apply to acts involving measures of compulsion.” But the fact that the Convention didn’t apply is not dispositive: of course, a US court can give judicial assistance to a foreign court even in the absence of a treaty obligation.