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Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Birchwood Builders Inc.

Decided: April 2, 1990.

FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT-CROSS-APPELLANT,
v.
BIRCHWOOD BUILDERS, INC., PO-KING, LTD., WILLIAM C. RAGANELLA, JR., ROSEMARIE RAGANELLA, ANTHONY RAGANELLA AND CLAIRE RAGANELLA, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS-CROSS-RESPONDENTS



On Appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Hudson County.

Brody, Muir, Jr., and Skillman. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Muir, Jr., J.A.D.

Muir

This appeal focuses on the different rights an individual partner has in a partnership and how the differences regulate the exposure of the rights to liens and executions of a judgment creditor of an individual partner. The Uniform Partnership Law (U.P.L.) provides a partner with two pertinent property rights: (1) his right in the "specific partnership property" and (2) his rights to the more generalized "interest in the partnership." N.J.S.A. 42:1-24.

The primary issue on this appeal is whether a trial court may order the sale of a partner's interest in a partnership, as opposed to the partner's interest in the specific property of a partnership, to satisfy a judgment against that partner. We conclude a court may order the interest in the partnership sold. We also conclude that in this instance the trial court should have ordered it sold.

The events that gave rise to this appeal began when plaintiff, on February 1, 1977, secured a $242,991.58 judgment against

the defendants in the Supreme Court of New York. Subsequent executions reduced the judgment to $200,349.50.

In March 1986, in post-judgment discovery, plaintiff learned that William C. Raganella, Jr., (defendant) owned a 40 percent interest in Carr Associates, a New Jersey partnership. It further learned the partnership owned a very valuable tract of vacant land in West New York, New Jersey. Plaintiff also discovered that defendant, a New York resident, was responsible for paying all taxes and expenses for the real property, and that neither the property nor the partnership yielded any income.

On April 20, 1987, plaintiff filed a complaint in the Superior Court to "domesticate" the New York judgment. On June 22, 1987, plaintiff secured an Order to Show Cause. The order required defendant to show cause why a writ of attachment should not issue "against" defendant. It also temporarily restrained defendant from alienating any assets he had in New Jersey. Subsequently, by consent order, defendant agreed not to alienate his interest in or the property of Carr Associates.

Thereafter, plaintiff moved for summary judgment. It sought entry of the New York judgment which, by that time, with interest accumulations, amounted to $385,538.15. It also sought an order charging defendant's interest in the partnership with payment of the judgment, appointing a receiver to handle defendant's profits and other income from the partnership, directing the sale of the partnership real estate or, although not specifically delineated in the motion, ordering sale of the defendant's interest in the partnership. The trial judge gave full faith and credit to the New York judgment and entered a judgment for its amount. He also entered an order charging defendant's interest in the partnership with satisfaction of the judgment. However, he denied any further relief.*fn1

Defendant appeals, contending he lacks sufficient minimum contacts with New Jersey to confer the personal jurisdiction required to give the New York judgment full faith and credit. He also argues plaintiff's complaint to "domesticate" the New York judgment is barred by a New York Statute of Limitations. Finally, he reasons, the trial court's charging order should be revised since it in effect countervails the U.P.L. proscription against attachment of the specific property of a partnership by a judgment creditor of an individual partner.

Plaintiff cross-appeals. It argues the trial court erred when it denied plaintiff's request to order the sale of defendant's interest in the partnership. In support of its contention, it highlights the distinction the U.P.L. makes between a partner's interest in the ...


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