• Obtaining a Cognovit Judgment in Ohio Requires Strict Adherence to Statutory Requirements
  • February 10, 2016 | Author: David S. Brown
  • Law Firm: Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co., L.P.A. - Cleveland Office
  • Ohio Revised Code § 2323.13 outlines the procedure applicable to reducing a cognovit note to judgment. In order for the trial court to be vested with subject matter jurisdiction, the following three elements are required:
    1. The confession of judgment must be made within the jurisdiction of the court in which any one of the makers reside, or in which the warrant of attorney was signed;
    2. The instrument must not arise out of a consumer loan or transaction; and
    3. The original warrant of attorney must be produced to the court at the time judgment is confessed.
    To be certain, courts will construe the statutory requirements strictly against the party seeking the cognovits judgment due to the extraordinary nature of the proceedings.

    In 2005, Ohio's Ninth Appellate District took things one step further by making clear that a creditor must "allege, either in the complaint or specify on the face of the note itself that the cognovit note was not a consumer transaction or that it did not arise out of a consumer loan."1 Thus, a creditor's failure to allege that the transaction was commercial and not consumer will prevent a court from exercising the subject matter jurisdiction necessary to enter judgment on the cognovit note.

    More recently, a case in the Ninth Appellate District2 once again proved that it intends to construe the statutory requirements strictly against creditors. Here, the Court went beyond the statute by requiring creditors to specifically allege that the original warrant of attorney was produced at the time of confession. While R.C. § 2323.13 only states that, "An attorney who confesses judgment in a case, at the time of making such confession, must produce the warrant of attorney for making it to the court before which he makes the confession," the Court has made clear that "although R.C. 2323.13 does not expressly require a cognovits complaint to aver that its jurisdictional requirements have been satisfied, the cognovits complaint should specifically address this issue, or, alternatively, the trial court should make jurisdictional findings on the record."3 Thus, a creditor's failure to allege that the original warrant of attorney was produced could result in its cognovit judgment being voided.

    With this in mind, the best practice when seeking a cognovit judgment is to ensure that you properly and specifically allege each of the three elements of subject matter jurisdiction outlined above. Of course, in addition to properly pleading jurisdictional requirements, there are many other things to consider when seeking a cognovit judgment. The attorneys at Weltman, Weinberg & Reis are here to assist you and walk you through the process.

    1 George Simon v. J. Harvey Crow, 9th Dist. No. 22172, 2005-Ohio-1266.
    2 Huntington National Bank v. Clark Development, Inc., 9th Dist. No. 26883, 2014-Ohio-2629.
    3 Id. At *P16.