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Answers by Garnishee

A district where the admiralty action is filed may not have personal jurisdiction over defendant’s seized property.  The purpose of maritime attachment and garnishment is to acquire personal jurisdiction over a property/vessel to the extent of defendant’s property proposed for attachment.  In an admiralty action, attachment and garnishment acts as security for judgment.  On issuing maritime attachment or garnishment, the vessel or the property may be seized in the district issuing the process.  When the vessel or property is attached, marshal can auction the property to the satisfaction of the judgment.

Rule as to when the garnishee shall answer to interrogatories is provided in Fed. R. Civ. P. Supp. Admiralty Rule B(3)(a).  The Rule provides that within 21 days of service of process, a garnishee must serve his/her answer to the process.  Interrogatories to garnishee are served with the complaint without court’s leave.  Garnishee should also answer the interrogatories served to him/her with the complaint.  Moreover the garnishee shall face the compulsory process opted by plaintiff in case of garnishee’s refusal or negligence to answer with regard to debt, credit or other effects of defendant.

The plaintiff may obtain compulsory process against defendant if the defendant neglects or refuses to answer any interrogatories on matters propounded by the plaintiff.[i] A garnishee can hold debt, credit or effects of defendant in the garnishee’s hand or can pay the amount to the registry of the court.  However, a garnishee can hold debt, credit or effect only with the permission of the court.[ii]

[i] Fed. R. Civ. P. Supp. Admiralty Rule B(3)(a)

[ii] Fed. R. Civ. P. Supp. Admiralty Rule B(3)(a)

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