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Section 3-701 of the Georgia Code bars suits on foreign judgments only if a plaintiff cannot revive his judgment in the State where it was originally obtained. For the relevant date in applying § 3-701 is not the date of the original judgment, but rather it is the date of the latest revival of the judgment.
This litigation began when appellant Watkins brought a tort action against Conway in a circuit court of Florida. On October 5, 1955, that court rendered a $ 25,000 judgment for appellant. Five years and one day later, appellant sued upon this judgment in a superior court of Georgia. Appellee raised § 3-701 of the Georgia Code as a bar to the proceeding, which states that all suits upon judgments obtained out of this State shall be brought within five years after such judgments shall have been obtained. The Georgia trial court gave summary judgment for appellee. In so doing, it rejected appellant's contention that § 3-701, when read against the longer limitation period on domestic judgments set forth in Ga. Code §§ 110-1001, 110-1002 (1935), was inconsistent with the Full Faith and Credit and Equal Protection Clauses of the Federal Constitution. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed.
Is § 3-701 of the Georgia Code unconstitutional?
The statute bars suits on foreign judgments only if the plaintiff cannot revive his judgment in the State where it was originally obtained. In the case at bar, for example, all Watkins need do is return to Florida and revive his judgment. He can then come back to Georgia within five years and file suit free of the limitations of § 3-701. It can be seen, therefore, that the Georgia statute has not discriminated against the judgment from Florida. Instead, it has focused on the law of that State. If Florida had a statute of limitations of five years or less on its own judgments, the appellant would not be able to recover here. But this disability would flow from the conclusion of the Florida Legislature that suits on Florida judgments should be barred after that period. Georgia's construction of § 3-701 would merely honor and give effect to that conclusion. Thus, full faith and credit is insured, rather than denied, the law of the judgment State. Similarly, there is no denial of equal protection in a scheme that relies upon the judgment State's view of the validity of its own judgments. Such a scheme hardly reflects invidious discrimination.