SUPERIOR Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has found a sufficient legal basis to recognize a foreign (South Korea) civil money judgment in a lawsuit filed on Saipan.
Judge Camacho also denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint.
Sung Yoon Kim filed a complaint against Hong Kyun Kim, and requested the local court for the recognition and enforcement of a foreign money civil judgment, namely three foreign money civil judgments from the Republic of Korea, issued by the Seoul Central District Court on Aug. 16, 2013 and Aug. 29, 2016, and the foreign money civil judgment issued by the Seoul High Court on Dec. 8, 2015.
According to the facts alleged in the complaint, Hong Kyun Kim signed a promissory note to the plaintiff promising to pay the amount of 130 million Korean won or KRW (approximately $115,836.48).
The amount represented the damages and expenses incurred by the plaintiff with respect to the public seizure and sale of a certain real property in South Korea, resulting from the mishandling of a real estate transaction by the defendant.
Plaintiff Sung Yoon Kim filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant in South Korea seeking to enforce the promissory note.
On Aug. 16, 2013, the Seoul Central District Court issued a decision directing the defendant to pay the plaintiff the full amount of the promissory note: 130 million KRW.
In addition, this decision directed the defendant to pay the “delayed compensation” for the period starting from May 22, 2013 until payment is completed at the rate of 20% of the full amount of the promissory note per year; and the litigation costs of the plaintiff.
On Dec. 8, 2015, the Seoul High Court issued a decision rejecting the defendant’s appeal and ordering the defendant to bear the legal costs of the appeal.
On Aug. 29, 2016, the Seoul District Court issued a decision directing the defendant to pay the litigations costs of the plaintiff in the amount of 11,033,990 KRW.
To date, according to the complaint filed in local court, these judgments remain unsatisfied by the defendant.
The total amount owed by the defendant to the plaintiff in accordance with these judgments is 141,033,990 KRW ($125,696.91).
At all relevant times, both the Seoul Central District Court and the Seoul High Court had the power and jurisdiction to issue their respective decisions, Judge Camacho stated in his ruling.
The defendant also received notice of the court proceedings and confirmed receipt of the Aug. 16, 2013 decision, the Dec. 8, 2015 decision, and the Aug. 29, 2016 decision.
Both the Aug. 16, 2013 and the Aug. 29, 2016 decisions issued by the Seoul Central District Court are now final, conclusive and enforceable judgments in the Republic of Korea (South Korea), the complaint stated.
The plaintiff is represented by attorney Samuel I. Mok.
The defendant, through attorney Matthew T. Gregory, filed a motion to dismiss, stating that the plaintiff fails to allege facts sufficient to establish all the essential elements of its claims.
Gregory said the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act of 1994, codified in 7 CMC Section 4401, does not permit recognition and enforcement of the South Korean civil money judgment, and there is no other cognizable legal basis in the CNMI for such recognition.
But in his ruling Judge Camacho said the defendant has not met the burden of showing that recognition and enforcement under the common law principle of comity, as expressed in the restatement, is not a cognizable legal theory upon which the plaintiff may bring a claim.
“Construing the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the non-moving party, and accepting all well-pleaded facts as true, the court finds that the plaintiff has a final and conclusive civil money judgment from the Republic of Korea, that the plaintiff is entitled by law to bring an action for the enforcement of this judgment in the Commonwealth, and that this judgment may be enforced as a judgment entitled to full faith and credit under the U.S. Constitution Article IV, Section 1, the Commonwealth’s Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act of 1994, the Treaty of Friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea, and the principle of comity,” Judge Camacho said.