Markin v. GrohmannAnnotate this Case
The issue on appeal before the Supreme Court was a challenge to the failure of a district court to give preclusive effect to a California federal district court judgment during a proceeding to grant recognition of a subsequent German judgment. Plaintiff Ron Markin executed a promissory note in 1988 agreeing to pay Defendant Thomas Grohmann $551,292.00 with interest at ten percent per annum. The loan was for a business transaction between the parties. In September 1997, Plaintiff sued Defendant in the United States District Court in the Central District of California in order to collect the promissory note. At that time, Defendant resided in Scottsdale, Arizona. The parties entered into a written settlement agreement to resolve the lawsuit. The agreement provided the principal and interest owing; that the lawsuit would be dismissed if that sum plus interest was paid according to the terms of the agreement; that the court would retain jurisdiction to enforce the agreement; that if the amount due under the agreement was not paid in full as provided in the agreement, Plaintiff could obtain a judgment as provided by California law; and that the agreement "shall be governed by and interpreted under the laws of the State of California." Defendant failed to pay according to the agreement, and Plaintiff obtained an ex parte judgment against Defendant. After learning that Defendant owned real property in Germany, Plaintiff commenced a civil action in Germany to enforce the California judgment. The German trial court dismissed the action on the ground that the judgment was not enforceable under German law. Plaintiff appealed and asserted that if the judgment was not enforceable, he could recover on the settlement agreement upon which that judgment was based. The appellate court agreed, and it issued an opinion ordering Defendant to pay Plaintiff. The court held that it could enter a judgment against Defendant based upon the settlement agreement because he had previously been a German citizen. Upon its review of matter, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded that the German judgment was a final judgment under German law. But because the German judgment did not recognize the effect of a final judgment under California law, it conflicted with the California judgment. The Idaho Court therefore reversed the judgment of the district court that recognized the German judgment.