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Sanact, Inc. v. US Pipeling, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 31, 2019



          Juan R. Sanchez, C.J.

         This case arises out of Plaintiff Sanact, Inc.'s attempt to enforce foreign judgments against Defendant U.S. Pipelining, LLC by garnishing the accounts payable to U.S. Pipelining held by Garnishee PSI Pumping Solutions Inc. In the garnishment procedure, PSI admitted in interrogatories that PSI owed U.S. Pipelining over $500, 000 for a project U.S. Pipelining completed for PSI. This Court then entered judgment against PSI thus allowing Sanact to garnish upon PSI's accounts payable to U.S. Pipelining. PSI then filed the instant motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). Because PSI has not established a basis for granting relief from judgment, the Court will deny PSI's motion.


         On December 12, 2018, Sanact registered three judgments from the District of Hawaii in this Court, each ruling in favor of Sanact and against U.S. Pipelining. The three judgments included a $123, 203.16 verdict issued by bench trial, prejudgment interest, postjudgment interest, judgment for costs, and judgment for attorneys' fees and expenses. Sanact's judgment against U.S. Pipelining totaled $199, 633.82. U.S. Pipelining, however, did not pay the judgments. Sanact then proceeded to seek garnishment against U.S. Pipelining's debtors.

         Once Sanact registered the judgments in this Court, it sought judgment against Santander Bank and PSI by garnishment. Sanact filed praecipes for writs of execution against Santander, and after Santander answered interrogatories stating it held $623.30 of U.S. Pipelining's funds in accounts, Sanact filed a praecipe to enter judgment against Santander, as garnishee, for that amount. On August 8, 2019, the Clerk of Court entered judgment against Santander, as garnishee, for $623.30. After this judgment was entered, the amount of Sanact's remaining judgments was $199, 010.52.

         Sanact filed a praecipe for a writ of execution against PSI on July 30, 2019, and the writ was issued the same day. The United States Marshals served PSI with the writ of execution on August 20, 2019. The writ of execution stated Sanact sought to satisfy a judgment against U.S. Pipelining by garnishment of PSI and directed the United States Marshals to "attach the property of [US Pipelining] not levied upon in the possession of PSI." See Writ of Execution 2, July 30, 2019, ECF No. 9. The writ also described the property as "accounts payable to U.S. Pipelining LLC" and ordered the Marshals to "notify the garnishee that (a) an attachment has been issued; [and] (b) the garnishee is enjoined from paying any debt to or for the account of the defendant and from delivering any property of the defendant or otherwise disposing thereof." Id.

         In addition to the writ, the Marshals served PSI with a "writ of execution notice." This notice explicitly stated:

[T]here is a judgment against you. It may cause your property to be held or taken to pay the judgment. You may have legal rights to prevent your property from being taken. A lawyer can advise you more specifically of those rights. If you wish to exercise your rights, you must act promptly.

Id. at 3. The notice also gave information regarding exemptions to judgment and how to present any exemption to the Court. At the bottom of the notice, in all capitalized letters and bold font, it stated, "YOU SHOULD TAKE THIS PAPER TO YOUR LAWYER AT ONCE. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A LAWYER OR CANNOT AFFORD ONE, GO TO OR TELEPHONE THE OFFICE SET FORTH BELOW TO FFND OUT WHERE YOU CAN GET LEGAL HELP." Id

         Sanact also served PSI with "Interrogatories to Garnishee." The document stated PSI was required to file answers to the interrogatories or judgment would be issued against it. The interrogatories asked PSI if it owed money to U.S. Pipelining or if it had in its possession any property of U.S. Pipelining.

         On September 5, 2019, after being served with the writ of execution, the writ of execution notice, and the interrogatories, PSI filed its responses to the interrogatories in this Court. The filing included not only PSI's responses to interrogatories, but also attached the documents that were served upon PSI. The interrogatories were answered and signed by Matthew Aiello, the project manager of PSI. Aiello sent these answers to Michael Aiello, the Vice President and CEO of PSI, the attorney of record for Sanact, Nathan Berry, and Jeremy Bowman for U.S. Pipelining. PSI admitted in its interrogatories that it owed U.S. Pipelining $522, 791.00, although after this statement PSI stated U.S. Pipelining owed other contractors and suppliers certain amounts. PSI also stated U.S. Pipelining still had equipment at the jobsite which was in PSI's possession.

         After PSI filed its responses and notified Sanact and the Clerk of Court that it owed U.S. Pipelining money, Sanact filed a praecipe to enter judgment against PSI for a total of $197, 133.82. Due to a miscalculation in the Clerk's office, the Clerk of Court believed the judgment Sanact sought was more than the judgment amounts registered in the Court.[1] The Clerk of Court then referred the praecipe to enter judgment to this Court to determine the discrepancy between the judgment amounts registered and the judgment amount Sanact requested to be entered.

         The Court determined the remaining amount of judgments registered totaled $199, 633.82-more than the amount Sanact requested and an amount that the Clerk was permitted to enter judgment. The Court nonetheless held a telephone conference on September 18, 2019, to determine the discrepancy in the judgment amounts. Because the case was referred to this Court merely to address the discrepancies, the Court did not intend to hear any argument on any issues but sought only to ensure the judgment amount to be entered was accurate. On the call, Sanact was represented by counsel; however, PSI was represented by Michael and Matthew Aiello. The Court informed the parties of its intent to only proceed if PSI was represented by counsel, but the parties agreed to proceed even though PSI was without representation.

         During the call, Sanact stated U.S. Pipelining had satisfied a portion of the judgment on its own, in the amount of $2, 500. Due to U.S. Pipelining's satisfaction, the judgment Sanact requested was an accurate amount registered with the Court-$197, 133.82. Once the judgment amount was clarified, the Court did not hear any legal arguments and informed the parties of its intent to enter judgment for the correct amount. On September 19, 2019, the Court ...

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