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Mechanics Finance Co. v. Austin

Decided: January 25, 1951.

MECHANICS FINANCE CO., A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
PERCY AUSTIN, DEFENDANT, AND THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY, A CORPORATION, GARNISHEE-APPELLANT. MECHANICS FINANCE CO., A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, V. JOHN MCELROY, DEFENDANT, AND THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY, A CORPORATION, GARNISHEE-APPELLANT



McGeehan, Jayne and Wm. J. Brennan, Jr. The opinion of the court was delivered by Jayne, J.A.D.

Jayne

Concisely stated, the controversial question debated by counsel is whether the wages of residents of this State who are in the employ of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, a foreign corporation authorized to conduct its operations in this State, which wages were contracted for, and are currently earned and paid in the State of New York, are subject to an order in garnishment proceedings by an execution creditor under our existing statute. R.S. 2:32-180 et seq.

The record before us consists of an agreed statement of facts submitted pursuant to Rules 1:2-22 and 4:2-6. It reveals that the plaintiff-respondent recovered judgments in this State against the debtors Austin and McElroy. Each are employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in the State of New York where they perform their services and receive their wages or salaries. Each debtor is a resident of the State of New Jersey.

The Pennsylvania Railroad Company is a foreign railroad corporation authorized as such to conduct business within this State by P.L. 1873, c. 386.

The Hudson County District Court, in which the judgments were obtained, entered orders directing wage executions upon

the salaries of the respective judgment debtors, and by virtue of the service of the executions upon the railroad company in this State, the company was commanded to deduct from the salaries of the respective employees the usual statutory percentage each week until the judgment debt was paid.

The railroad company, as garnishee, obtained from the District Court rules to show cause why the garnishment orders should not be vacated and quashed. The rules were discharged, and these consolidated appeals bring before us for review the propriety of their dismissal.

Our attention is immediately invited to the decision of the Supreme Court in Continental Purchasing Co., Inc., v. Williams , 132 N.J.L. 445 (Sup. Ct. 1945), which the appellant insists is decisive and conclusive.

We observe that in the cited decision the court disclosed with precision and exactness the problem presented for determination. We quote: "The question before us is whether a garnishment order may issue on a judgment obtained in this state on an employer of another state where the defendant resides and is employed." (Emphasis ours.) Obviously, the fact that the judgment debtor was a non-resident of this State was recognized as a circumstance of salient significance. In the present proceedings the judgment debtors are residents of New Jersey.

It was accordingly concluded in the Continental case that there was "nothing in the statute which authorizes wages to be garnished when earned by a non-resident out of this state." It is equally apparent that the solidity of the decision inheres in the finding that "there exists no such res in this state."

We would have but little hesitation in declaring that decision inapplicable to the dissimilar circumstances of the present case, had the court not simultaneously announced: "Non-resident garnishees are not mentioned in the statute, and we find no provision which attempts to give jurisdiction over them." This expression of opinion cannot be evaluated as dictum. The application of the statute to non-resident garnishees, or ...


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