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Kitchens International, Inc. v. Evans Cabinet Corp.

April 27, 2010

KITCHENS INTERNATIONAL, INC., PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
EVANS CABINET CORP., LTD., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Docket Nos. DJ-61298-09 and DJ-61591-09.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yannotti, J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Argued March 1, 2010

Before Judges Rodríguez, Reisner and Yannotti.

Defendant Evans Cabinet Corp., Ltd. (Evans) appeals from an order entered by the Law Division on April 17, 2009, which denied its motion to strike certain judgments filed by plaintiff Kitchens International, Inc. (Kitchens) pursuant to the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:49A-25 to -33 (UEFJA). We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for entry of a stay of enforcement of the disputed judgments upon the posting of appropriate security.

I.

This appeal arises from the following facts. Plaintiff is a Louisiana corporation, which has a satellite office in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Plaintiff specializes in the sale, distribution and supply of kitchen cabinetry and countertops. Defendant is a Georgia corporation that produces cabinets and other items required in the installation and remodeling of kitchens.

In 2004, the parties entered into a contact in which defendant agreed to manufacture and provide plaintiff with cabinets and other products required for twelve construction projects in the eastern United States. Plaintiff placed the orders for these products from its headquarters in Montreal with defendant's office in Georgia. Defendant manufactured the products and shipped them directly to the construction sites.

Plaintiff has alleged that the products defendant provided were defective and failed to comply with the respective contract requirements. Plaintiff has asserted that, as a consequence of defendant's alleged breaches of the contract, it incurred substantial damages, including but not limited to back-charges, lost profits and out-of-pocket expenditures for repair and replacement of the defective items.

On May 8, 2006, plaintiff brought an action against defendant in the Quebec Superior Court, seeking damages for the losses plaintiff allegedly suffered as a result of defendant's delivery of defective and/or non-conforming products. Defendant was served with process but did not appear, answer or file a responsive pleading. On May 31, 2007, the Quebec court entered a default judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendant in the amount of $149,354.74 (Canadian).

On April 30, 2007, defendant filed an action against plaintiff in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, in which it asserted claims for breach of contract and quantum meruit. It is undisputed that these claims arose from the same construction projects that were the subject of plaintiff's Canadian lawsuit.

On June 15, 2007, plaintiff filed another complaint against defendant in the Quebec Superior Court seeking additional damages arising from defendant's alleged breaches of the contract. Defendant was served with process but did not appear, answer or file a responsive pleading. On September 17, 2007, the Quebec court entered a default judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendant in the amount of $486,751.52 (Canadian).

Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss defendant's federal lawsuit, arguing that the action was barred by res judicata. The federal district court converted the motion to a motion for summary judgment and allowed the parties time to conduct limited discovery on the issue of whether the Quebec court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over defendant. On November 4, 2008, the district court granted plaintiff's motion and dismissed defendant's complaint. Evans Cabinet Corp. v. Kitchen Int'l, ...


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