Ellsworth Land v. Bush (CA1 6/22/10)

A brief opinion concerning jurisdiction over a garnishment.

Ellsworth had a judgment against Bush. It garnished annuity payments made to Bush by Canada Life. Bush moved to quash the garnishment, arguing that Arizona had no jurisdiction.

She relied on  a 1998 case (Desert Wide Cabling) which said that “a writ of garnishment cannot reach property outside the territorial jurisdiction of the issuing court.” This was based on section 67 of the Restatement (Second) of Conflicts, which deals with garnishment of a chattel; it requires that the chattel be in the jurisdiction. Apparently, Bush argued that an annuity is a chattel and that since it wasn’t in Arizona the court had no jurisdiction over it.

Section 68 of the Restatement, however, deals with garnishment of a debt owed the judgment debtor; it requires only that the court have jurisdiction over the garnishee, not over the cash itself. This opinion defines “debt” and “chattel” from Black’s and quickly concludes that section 68 “more properly” applies. (The court means that 68 applies and 67 doesn’t, which makes the word “more” problematical, but that’s picking nits). The Arizona Supreme Court said much the same thing in the Western Union case last year; this opinion cites Western Union to support its Restatement analysis rather than the other way around since the emphasis is on distinguishing the Restatement analysis in Desert Wide Cabling.

Bush agreed that Arizona has jurisdiction over Canada Life. This opinion therefore affirms the trial court’s entry of judgment on the garnishment.


(link to opinion)