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Lydia Scheck and Dieter Scheck v. the Republic of Argentina

May 23, 2011

LYDIA SCHECK AND DIETER SCHECK,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE REPUBLIC OF ARGENTINA,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas P. Griesa U.S.D.J

OPINION

Plaintiffs are two German citizens who claim to have obtained six money judgments each against the Republic of Argentina (the "Republic") in a German court, based on their ownership of defaulted Republic-issued German bonds. In this action, plaintiffs seek to enforce their German judgments. Plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment in September 2010, but the court placed it in abeyance pending completion of service of process pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-judicial Documents, 20 U.S.T. 361, at *1.

Plaintiffs now renew their motion for summary judgment. They also argue that a default judgment against the Republic should be entered.

The purpose of this opinion is to explain that service of process has been accomplished. Briefing on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment should now be completed, so that this motion can be decided. The court declines to enter a default judgment.

Background

On July 6, 2010 plaintiffs commenced the present action seeking recognition and enforcement of the German judgments. Plaintiffs allege that their German judgments against the Republic are "final, conclusive and enforceable where rendered," making them enforceable in this jurisdiction pursuant to the Uniform Foreign Country Money Judgments Recognition Act, N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 5302.

The terms and conditions for the German bond series at issue designate an authorized agent for service of process in Germany for suits brought in Germany. The documents do not provide an authorized agent for service of process in the United States, or for suits brought in the United States.

Nevertheless, on July 15, plaintiffs attempted to deliver the summons and complaint to the Vice President of Banco de la Nacion Argentina in New York ("BNA"), the authorized agent for service of process for claims brought on U.S. bonds. Then, on August 17, 2010, plaintiffs, by means of Process Service Network LLC, sent a copy of the summons and complaint, and other required forms, to the central authority designated by the Republic for service of process pursuant to Article 2 of the Hague Service Convention-the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the "Ministry").

On September 13, 2010, the Republic moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficient service of process. On September 27, 2010, plaintiffs moved for summary judgment.

On October 7, 2010, the parties' entered into a stipulation, which was so ordered by the court, as follows: (1) the motion to dismiss is denied as moot; (2) the complaint and motion for summary judgment are held in abeyance pending the completion of service as required by the Hague Service Convention; and (3) the Republic shall answer, move to dismiss, or otherwise respond to the complaint and motion for summary judgment on or before 60 days after the completion of service of the complaint on the Republic.

On February 7, 2011, plaintiffs' process server contacted the Republic's Consul General in Los Angeles and was told four days later that there were problems. On February 11, 2011, plaintiffs' process server sent an agent to the Ministry to inquire about the status of process. The Ministry told the agent that the service was "in process." Plaintiffs have not yet received a certificate of service or delivery.

Discussion

Service of Process

Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(j)(1), the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (the "FSIA"), 28 U.S.C. ยง 1608(a), sets out the requirements for ...


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