The Arizona Supreme Court decided today that the Netherlands CAN enforce its $7.1M dollar judgment against Mesa's MD Helicopters here in Arizona.
The justices split 5-2 on whether Arizona's recent law permitting the domestication and enforcement of foreign money judgments in Arizona requires the nation to have a reciprocal law passed by its legislature, or whether nearly 100 years of court decisions and practice sufficed.
MD Helicopters actually began the legal action years ago, when it sued the Netherlands national police agency for failing to pay for a 2001 order. The national police successfully counterclaimed because the MD subsidiary had not delivered the helicopters in time. The court in the Netherlands entered a $7.1M (£5.8M) judgment, which the national police tried to domesticate in Maricopa County Superior Court in 2015.
Coincidentally - or, perhaps not(?) - that was just after Arizona changed its laws on recognizing such foreign judgments, enacting its version of the Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act. It requires that the country had “adopted or enacted a reciprocal law related to foreign-country money judgments that is similar" to the law.
So, the question before Arizona's Supreme Court was what is the meaning of "a reciprocal law". And, Vice Chief Justice Ann Timmer, writing for the 5-2 majority, found that the word "adopted" indicates Arizona's legislature was looking to more than simply laws "enacted" by a legislative body, that the Legislature did not limit the reciprocity to "laws" and that it was concerned with how Arizona judgments would be treated in that nation.
Justices Bill Montgomery and Clint Bolick dissented, suggesting that the Netherlands Supreme Court itself has described its reciprocity as "disguised", because the Arizona judgment would only be "recognized" there but could not be "enforced".
Arizona's Law has reached out to MD Helicopters for reaction to today's decision and will update as warranted.
"AZ Law" includes articles, commentaries and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts, etc. AZ Law is founded by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich, and joins Arizona's Politics on the internet.