New York City Debt Collection Defense Attorney

Listing Judgment on Bankruptcy Petition could Renew Enforceability of Otherwise Time-Barred Judgment, holds New York Appeals Court

Today, we report on a New York appellate case, First New York Bank v. Alexander,[1] that affirms basic elements of NYCPLR § 211(b): acknowledging a debt in writing or making partial payment on a judgment will renew the 20-year statute of limitations to enforce the judgment. Otherwise, a money judgment is "presumed to paid and satisfied after the expiration of twenty years..."

The basic facts of this case are as follows: A default judgment is entered against Debtor for $314,735.19 on April 25, 1990. Debtor lists this judgment in a 2005 bankruptcy petition[2]. In 2011, assignee-judgment creditor, The Cradle Company, sought to enforce the judgment through issuance of restraining notices and subpoenas. Shortly thereafter, Debtor sought a judicial declaration that enforcement was time barred under CPLR § 211(b).

The lower trial court held that that Debtor's failure to acknowledge the full amount of the judgment in his bankruptcy petition somehow fell short of the acknowledgement exception of CPLR § 211(b).

The Appellate Division, First Department reversed, citing other cases that hold that "an acknowledgment need not list the amount owed, the character of the obligation, a promise to pay the debt; A mere recognition of the judgment is enough.

[1] First New York Bank for Business v. Alexander, 2013 N.Y. Slip Op. 10796 (First Dep't).

[2] The wrong amount and the wrong courthouse were listed on the bankruptcy petition, two inaccuracies that did not alter the issue in this appeal but which may have contributed to the debt's nondischargeability in the Chapter 7 proceeding.