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SULLIVAN v. HOCHFELDER

October 6, 1993

GERALD M. SULLIVAN, not individually, but as Trustee of PLUMBERS' PENSION FUND, LOCAL 30, U.A., PLUMBERS' WELFARE FUND, LOCAL 130, U.A., THE TRUST FUND FOR APPRENTICE AND JOURNEYMAN EDUCATION AND TRAINING, LOCAL 130, U.A., GROUP LEGAL SERVICES PLAN FUND, and no individually but as Business Manager of CHICAGO JOURNEYMEN PLUMBERS' LOCAL UNION, 130, U.A., THE PLUMBING CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION OF CHICAGO AND COOK COUNTY, Plaintiffs,
v.
FRED HOCHFELDER, d/b/a F.H. HOCK PLUMBING CONTRACTORS, and LILLIAN HOCHFELDER, Defendants.


Williams


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ANN CLAIRE WILLIAMS

 Background

 From 1981 to 1985, Fred Hochfelder ("Hochfelder") worked as a plumbing contractor, doing business as Hock Plumbing Company, Inc., and F.H. Hock Plumbing Contractors. In October 5, 1990, an arbitrator ordered Hochfelder to pay just under $ 50,000 for failing to contribute to his employees' benefits funds in violation of several collective bargaining agreements. (Arbitration Decision and Award at 1-2). In April 1991, following Hochfelder's refusal to pay, the plaintiffs filed suit in this court to enforce the arbitration award. On August 27, 1991, this court entered judgment against Hochfelder, d/b/a F. J. Hock Plumbing Contractors and Hock Plumbing, Inc. in the amount of $ 50,746.15. Three weeks later, this court granted plaintiffs' petition for an award of attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $ 4,823.23.

 According to plaintiffs, prior to July 1991, Hochfelder and his wife Lillian owned certain real property in Niles, Illinois as joint tenants. (Complaint at 3). On July 12, 1991, six weeks before this court entered its judgment against Hochfelder, Hochfelder and his wife allegedly transferred the Niles property to themselves as tenants by the entirety. (Id.). Plaintiffs claim that the transfer was made "with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud" plaintiffs and in violation of the Illinois Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. 740 ILCS 160/1-12. Unable to collect on this court's judgment, plaintiffs now ask the court to void the transfer and order that a levy of execution issue on Hochfelder's interest in the Nile's property. (Complaint at 5). *fn1"

 In their motion to dismiss, the Hochfelders assert that because the sole issue presented - whether the alleged transfer of the Niles property was fraudulent - is a matter of state law, this court has no subject matter jurisdiction over the parties' dispute. (Motion to Dismiss at 1); (Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss at 1-3). The mere fact that the parties' original dispute involved claims under ERISA, the Hochfelders argue, does not mean that subsequent efforts to enforce the judgment also involve questions of federal law. (Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss at 2). Noting that this case will not require the analysis or interpretation of any benefit plans covered by ERISA, they claim that the appropriate forum for this action is state court, "which clearly has greater expertise in the interpretation of the state's own fraudulent conveyance law." (Id.).

 Discussion

 The supplementary jurisdiction of a federal court over proceedings brought to protect and give effect to its judgments has been long recognized.

 
The rule is universal, that if the power is conferred to render the judgment or enter the decree, it also includes the power to issue proper process to enforce such judgment or decree. . . . The jurisdiction of a court is not exhausted by the rendition of the judgment, but continues until that judgment shall be satisfied.

 Argento v. Village of Melrose Park, 838 F.2d 1483 (7th Cir. 1988) (quoting Riggs v. Johnson County, 73 U.S. 166, 187, 18 L. Ed. 768 (1867)).

 Absent such authority, "the judicial power would be incomplete, and entirely inadequate to the purposes for which it was intended." Bank of United States v. Halstead, 23 U.S. 51, 53, 6 L. Ed. 264 (1825). To require a separate state lawsuit to enforce a federal court judgment would compromise the important federal interests at stake in the original suit and impose an unnecessary burden on the state court system. See Skevofilax v. Quigley, 810 F.2d 378, 385 (3d Cir. 1987).

 Rule 69(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides a procedural mechanism for a court's exercise of its inherent jurisdiction to enforce its judgment in a supplemental proceeding. Argento, 838 F.2d at 1487. As the express language of Rule 69(a) makes clear, the Rule contemplates the application of state law:

 
Process to enforce a judgment for the payment of money shall be a writ of execution, unless the court directs otherwise. The procedure on execution, in proceedings supplementary to and in aid of a judgment, and in proceedings on and in aid of execution shall be in accordance with the practice and procedure of the state in ...

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