White v. Taylor, 281 So.3d 1188 (Miss. Ct. App. 2019). In January 2002, a Florida court entered a final judgment dissolving the marriage of White and Taylor who were both residents of Florida. The court ordered White to pay Taylor $7,000. In July 2014, Taylor filed a supplemental petition for modification and other relief in the Florida court because he had not been paid. A month later, the court found White in contempt and that the amount owed by White, including interest, would continue to accrue until paid. White owned property in Lowndes County, Mississippi. In February 2017, Taylor filed a notice of the final judgment in Lowndes County Circuit Court. Taylor also filed a petition for writ of execution. In response, White filed a motion to set aside the foreign judgment claiming the action was barred by the statute of limitations under Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-45, because more than seven years had passed since the original January 2002 judgment was entered. Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-45 provides that an action based on a foreign judgment must be commenced within seven years after it was rendered (or within three years if the person against whom the judgment was rendered is a Mississippi resident). The Lowndes County Circuit Court denied White’s motion to set aside the foreign judgment. The Circuit Court found that the 2014 judgment was a renewed or separate judgment which reset the limitation period. On appeal, the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed and remanded finding that the statute of limitations had run. The Court of Appeals, in an opinion by Justice Westbrooks, held that the 2014 judgment was only a continuation of the 2002 proceeding and had not been enrolled within the seven-year limitation period. In reaching its decision, the Court distinguished between an “action on the judgment” and a “post-judgment proceeding.” The Court explained that an action on the judgment is a renewal or separate judgment which resets the statute of limitations, while a post-judgment proceeding is a continuation of the original judgment which does not reset the limitation period. The Court found that the 2014 judgment was a continuation of the original judgment since it had the same cause number as the 2002 judgment and only calculated interest. The Court of Appeals reversed the Circuit Court’s decision and rendered judgment for White.
Note: This case is a cautionary tale for parties seeking to enforce a foreign judgment in Mississippi. Don’t wait to enforce a foreign judgment and assume that the foreign judgment will remain viable simply because the foreign court has modified the judgment. A subsequent ruling in the foreign court will not automatically reset the limitation period.