Friday, December 6, 2013

Harris v. Balk case brief

Harris v. Balk case brief summary
198 U.S. 215 (1905)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff appealed from a judgment of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, which refused to give full faith and credit to a Maryland judgment that allowed plaintiff to attach a debt owed by a garnishee to defendant in North Carolina, after plaintiff served notice on the garnishee, a non-resident of Maryland, while the garnishee was in Maryland.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff sought review of the appellate court's decision denying the effect of a Maryland judgment for plaintiff in plaintiff's action to recover a debt from defendant owed to plaintiff. Plaintiff attached the debt owed by the garnishee to defendant. Plaintiff personally served the garnishee, a non-resident of Maryland, with notice of suit for the debt to be tried in Maryland. Defendant claimed that the debt owed by the garnishee in North Carolina did not follow the garnishee when the garnishee travelled to Maryland and that Maryland courts could not gain jurisdiction over the garnishee.

DISCUSSION

  • The United States Court of Appeals reversed. 
  • The garnishee's debt owed to defendant followed the garnishee everywhere. 
  • Since Maryland had a law that would allow defendant to pursue the debt owed by the garnishee to defendant, plaintiff could attach the debt owed by the garnishee to defendant, even though the garnishee was not a Maryland resident. 
  • The garnishee's failure to notify defendant of attachment was not prejudicial because defendant had the opportunity to show that he did not owe a debt to plaintiff.

CONCLUSION
The Court reversed the lower court's decision, finding that the Maryland judgment, which allowed plaintiff to attach a debt owed by the garnishee to defendant, was entitled to recognition because Maryland law allowed defendant the right to sue on a debt owed by the garnishee in Maryland if the garnishee could be found in Maryland.


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