Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 95 L 13531 Honorable Thomas P. Quinn, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Greiman
The plaintiff, Logemann Holding, Inc., obtained a judgment against the several defendants in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on January 16, 1992. Thereafter, it sought to register the judgment in the circuit court of Cook County on September 13, 1995. Without contest, the judgment was registered pursuant to the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (Uniform Act) (735 ILCS 5/12-650 (West 1994)).
Eventually, plaintiff discovered a parcel of real estate in Illinois in which the same defendants had an interest. Accordingly, on January 8, 2000, eight years after entry of judgment in Wisconsin and 4 1/2 years after registration in Illinois, plaintiff, pursuant to the Uniform Act, delivered a direction to levy that real estate to the sheriff of Cook County. The sheriff, however, declined to execute the levy because the direction to levy was placed more than seven years after the entry of judgment in Wisconsin. Thereafter, plaintiff sought an order from the circuit court of Cook County directing the sheriff to proceed with the levy.
The issue before us is whether the life of a foreign judgment is measured from the date it is entered in the originating state or from the date it is registered in Illinois. The trial court held that the laws of the state of origination govern; however, for the reasons set forth hereafter, we reverse. The Uniform Act, which was adopted in Illinois in 1951, is intended to make easier the enforcement of judgments across state lines.
In coming to our conclusion, we must examine with care the language of the Uniform Act. Section 12-652 provides:
A copy of any foreign judgment authenticated in accordance with the acts of Congress or the statutes of this State may be filed in the office of the circuit clerk for any county of this State. The clerk shall treat the foreign judgment in the same manner as a judgment of the circuit court for any county of this State. A judgment so filed has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses and proceedings for reopening, vacating, or staying as a judgment of a circuit court for any county of this State and may be enforced or satisfied in like manner." 735 ILCS 5/12-652 (West 1994).
In Light v. Light, 12 Ill. 2d 502 (1957), a Missouri statute provided for conclusive presumption of payment of a judgment after 10 years from the date of entry. Under the Uniform Act, the judgment was filed in Illinois less then 10 years after judgment was entered, but enforcement was not sought until after the 10 year period had run.
The Light court was clear that the dormancy period begins upon the registration in Illinois. The court said:
"Under the Uniform Act, unless the registration is set aside after a hearing, it is the registered judgment that becomes the final judgment of the Illinois court. [Citation.] Such a provision is essential to the act's purpose of protecting the priority of the creditor who levies on the foreign judgment. The act thus contemplates that the vitality of the foreign judgment is to be determined as of the date that it is registered. And in this case the judgment was registered under the statute several months before the ten-year period expired." (Emphasis added). Light, 12 Ill. 2d at 508-09.
We are faced with a similar set of facts in the instant matter. Wisconsin law provides that no execution on the judgment shall issue after five years of the rendition of the judgment and then provides a process for reviving the judgment on application to the court up to 20 years. Wis. Stat. Ann. §815.04 (West 1994).
In La Societe Anonyme Goro v. Conveyor Accessories, Inc., 286 Ill. App. 3d 867 (1997), the court determined that the filing of a foreign country's judgment was not limited by the Illinois statute of limitations of five years and that the Uniform Act did not provide limitations for the period of enforcement of non- Illinois judgments similar to the filing of initial actions in Illinois.
In 1991, the Uniform Act was amended, striking the five-year limitations period and mandating that the seven-year period for enforcing Illinois judgments applied to the enrollment and enforcement of a sister state's judgment rather than the five- year period for other actions. The Conveyor case dealt with a foreign country's judgment and ultimately held that it was enforceable in the same manner as the judgment of a sister state and that the seven-year limitations period as provided for Illinois judgments should be applicable. The judgments of a foreign nation are controlled by the Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act (735 ILSC 5/12-618 et seq. (West 1994)), and that act provides that as long as a foreign nation's judgment is "final and conclusive and enforceable where rendered" (735 ILCS 5/12-619 (West 1994)), it "is enforceable in the same manner as the judgment of a sister state" (735 ILCS 5/12-620 (West 1994)). Once these initial concerns have been met, the Uniform Act will apply.
Thereafter, in Pinilla v. Harza Engineering Co., 324 Ill. App. 3d 803 (2001), the court, addressing the enforcement of a foreign country's judgments, made a distinction between the time of registration and the time of enforcement, pursuant to the Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act, on the theory that judgments rendered by foreign countries were addressed. In any event, the conclusion of the Pinilla case was that where the plaintiff seeking enforcement has attached the appropriate documents relating to the judgment which, thereafter, is authenticated in accordance with the statutes of Illinois, such properly authenticated judgment is to be treated as any other Illinois judgment including reopening, ...