(CN) – Israeli citizens who bought overvalued homes in Florida can enforce an Israeli court’s $1.4 million judgment against the U.S. lender that held their mortgages, a Florida appeals court ruled.
A group of Israelis bought houses at the Lake Marion Golf Resort in Florida. When they discovered that the houses were worth substantially less than what they were sold for, the Israelis filed suit against Flick Mortgage Investors in Israel.
Flick challenged the Israeli suit on personal jurisdiction grounds, and ultimately lost. It then sued some of its co-defendants in Miami-Dade County circuit court, seeking damages for having to defend the lawsuit in Israel. That action was eventually dismissed.
In June 2005, the Israeli court awarded the plaintiffs $1.48 million, plus interest and attorney fees.
The plaintiffs sought to enforce the judgment in Florida under the state’s Uniform Out-of-Country Foreign Money Judgment Recognition Act.
Flick successfully moved for summary judgment, claiming the Israeli court lacked personal jurisdiction because it failed to properly serve the mortgage company.
The appeals court reversed.
“Flick not only failed to demonstrate any defense to recognition that is authorized by the Act,” Judge Wells wrote, “but also … waived the defense of insufficient service of process by not raising it before the Israeli court at the time it challenged personal jurisdiction.”