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Cadle Company v. Seavall

Court of Appeals of New Mexico

July 24, 2019

THE CADLE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
STEPHEN J. SEAVALL, Defendant-Appellee.

          APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF BERNALILLO COUNTY Beatrice J. Brickhouse, District Judge

          The Rowe Law Firm, P.C. Gordon H. Rowe, III Albuquerque, NM for Appellant

          Giddens, Gatton & Jacobus, P.C. Mary L. Johnson Albuquerque, NM for Appellee

          OPINION

          VARGAS, JUDGE.

         {¶1} The Cadle Company (Plaintiff) appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Stephen J. Seavall (Defendant), arguing the district court erred in finding Plaintiffs 2016 lawsuit was based on a judgment rendered in 1987, and was time-barred by NMSA 1978, Section 37-1-2 (1983) (providing that "[a]ctions founded upon any judgment of any court of the state may be brought within fourteen years from the date of the judgment, and not afterward"). We reverse.

         BACKGROUND

         {¶2} Defendant entered into a stipulated judgment with Sandia Federal Savings and Loan Association against Defendant for $36, 388.12 in July 1987 (the 1987 Judgment). The 1987 Judgment was eventually transferred to Plaintiff. Plaintiff filed suit on the 1987 Judgment in June 2001, and the district court entered judgment in Plaintiffs favor in June 2002 (the 2002 Judgment). Plaintiff filed suit on the 2002 Judgment in 2009, and the district court entered judgment in Plaintiffs favor in September 2009 (the 2009 Judgment). Neither party argues, nor does our review of the record reveal, that Plaintiff ever executed upon any of these judgments.

         {¶3} In July 2016 Plaintiff filed its "complaint on a judgment" stating that it was the holder of a judgment against Defendant, citing to the 2009 Judgment. Plaintiff further contended that the amount of the 2009 Judgment remains unpaid and Plaintiff is entitled to a judgment for the unpaid amount. Plaintiff sought a judgment against Defendant in the principal amount of $136, 876.03, which included interest that had accrued since the 1987 Judgment, plus interest thereafter at the rate of 8.75 percent. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment or, alternatively, to dismiss for failure to state a claim. In his motion, Defendant argued that New Mexico law permits only one revival of a judgment and that Plaintiffs 2016 lawsuit was barred under Section 37-1-2.

         {¶4} The district court granted summary judgment in Defendant's favor, concluding that the 2009 Judgment, upon which Plaintiff was suing, was founded on the 2002 Judgment, which was founded on the 1987 Judgment. Thus, the district court found that the 2016 lawsuit was barred under Section 37-1-2 as it was "an action to revive a judgment" and was "filed more than twenty-nine years after the 1987 Judgment was rendered." The district court further found:

Plaintiff argues Section 37-1-2 places no limit on the number of times a party may bring an action on a judgment. This is true. However, Section 37-1-2 does limit the period for bringing such actions to fourteen years.

         This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         {¶5} Plaintiff argues that the district court erred in granting summary judgment as the 2016 lawsuit was not an action to revive a judgment, but was a "separate action on the 2009 [J]udgment[.]" Plaintiff contends that the 1987 Judgment merged into the 2002 Judgment and that the 2002 Judgment merged into the 2009 Judgment, such that the 2002 and 2009 Judgments were "new and separate judgment[s]" and that the 2016 lawsuit, being "premised on the 2009 [J]udgment[, ]" was therefore timely. Before turning to the question of whether Plaintiffs 2016 lawsuit was barred under Section 37-1-2, we must first determine the legislative intent behind New Mexico's statutory scheme concerning the life and execution of judgments, and whether New Mexico law permits actions on judgments that produce new judgments upon which new limitations periods will run.

         A. ...


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