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Landstar Global Logistics, Inc v. Robinson & Robinson

May 16, 2013

LANDSTAR GLOBAL LOGISTICS, INC., PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
ROBINSON & ROBINSON, INC., DEFENDANT; WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., ET AL., INTERVENERS AND APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from orders of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Michael S. Groch, Judge. (Super. Ct. No. 37-2010-00094559-CU-EN-CTL)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irion, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Reversed.

In this appeal from postjudgment orders directing issuance of a letter rogatory requesting registration of judgment liens against properties of the judgment debtor in Mexico and restraining the debtor from transferring its right to payment upon the sale of those properties, we must decide two issues of first impression in California. First, may a court request the registration of judgment liens in a foreign country via a letter rogatory issued pursuant to the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory? Second, may a court issue an order restraining the disposition of a right to payment pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 708.520 when it has not previously or simultaneously issued an order assigning the right to payment pursuant to section 708.510 of that code?*fn1 We answer both questions in the negative and therefore reverse the challenged orders.

I.

BACKGROUND

A. The Litigation Against Robinson & Robinson, Inc.

There are three lawsuits pertinent to the issues involved in this appeal:

First, Landstar Global Logistics, Inc. (Landstar) filed an action in the San Diego County Superior Court to domesticate and enforce a judgment it had obtained against Robinson & Robinson, Inc. (Robinson) in Florida. The trial court (Hon. Michael S. Groch) entered a judgment and issued a writ of execution. The postjudgment orders challenged on appeal were issued in this action.

Second, in a separate and subsequent action filed in the San Diego County Superior Court, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (Wells Fargo) sued Robinson and several affiliates after they had defaulted on secured loans and ceased business operations. At Wells Fargo's request, the trial court (Hon. William S. Cannon) appointed David P. Stapleton to act as receiver for Robinson and its affiliates.

Third, Wells Fargo also filed an action in Mexico against Robinson and some of its Mexican affiliates. The Mexican court granted Wells Fargo judicial liens on real property owned by a trust of which Robinson was a beneficiary. The parties to the Mexican litigation later entered into a settlement agreement under which Robinson agreed to sell its Mexican realty; to pay the proceeds to Wells Fargo; and, after a certain time period, to transfer to Wells Fargo title to any properties that remained unsold.

B. Landstar's Motion for Issuance of a Letter Rogatory and a Restraining Order

In its action against Robinson, Landstar moved the trial court for three orders as part of its efforts to enforce the judgment. Landstar requested: (1) an order issuing a letter rogatory requesting that the Mexican authorities register the judgment liens issued by the trial court; (2) an assignment order transferring to Landstar Robinson's rights to receive proceeds from the sale of Mexican real property held in trust for Robinson; and (3) a restraining order prohibiting Robinson from transferring those rights to anyone else.

Landstar sought issuance of the letter rogatory pursuant to the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory (Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory (Apr. 15, 1980) 28 U.S.C.A. (2006) foll. § 1781, pp. 594-598 (hereafter, Convention)),*fn2 to which the United States and Mexico are signatories (Laino v. Cuprum S.A. de C.V. (N.Y.App.Div. 1997) 235 A.D.2d 25, 28 [663 N.Y.S.2d 275, 276]). Landstar asserted a letter rogatory was appropriate because the trial court had entered a judgment against Robinson, and Landstar was "seeking to collect on that judgment." Specifically, Landstar sought to have judgment liens registered in ...


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