Case of the Day: Prumyslovy v. Kozeny
Posted on November 22, 2018
The case of the day is Harvardsky Prumyslovy Holding, A.S. v. Kozeny (N.Y. App. Div. 2018). I like the terse style of New York appellate division decisions, but it makes the facts hard to decipher. Prumyslovy had a Czech judgment against Kozeny, and Kozeny moved the dismiss when Prumyslovy sought recognition and enforcement. The court held that Kozeny had waived the defense of lack of jurisdiction for procedural reasons, but its alternative holding was more interesting.
The court noted that the complaint alleged that Kozeny had $22 million on deposit with a New York bank, and it held that it therefore had jurisdiction in rem. This may be New York-specific, but I think the better term is jurisdiction quasi in rem, i.e., jurisdiction over Kozeny to the extent of his property in New York. After all, the case isn’t about this specific $22 million, and the court is not adjudicating the rights of the whole world as to that particular sum.
A rule like this is important, so that judgment debtors cannot simply stash assets in jurisdictions where they are not subject to ordinary jurisdiction in personam. Personal jurisdiction as a defense has more oomph now than it had in the past, and so whether the New York approach succeeds in the future is not assured. But without a rule like this, it seems to me that judgment debtors have too much ability to escape the obligations of a judgment through creative asset planning without even having to rely on exemption statutes.