905 F.2d 12 (2nd Cir. 1990), 893, American Airlines, Inc. v. Block

Docket Nº:893, Docket 89-9019.
Citation:905 F.2d 12
Party Name:AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., Appellee, v. Marsha Ann BLOCK, Interpleader-Appellee, Robert M. Block, Interpleader-Appellant.
Case Date:May 23, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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905 F.2d 12 (2nd Cir. 1990)



Marsha Ann BLOCK, Interpleader-Appellee,

Robert M. Block, Interpleader-Appellant.

No. 893, Docket 89-9019.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

May 23, 1990

Argued Feb. 27, 1990.

Martin I. Saperstein, Garden City, N.Y., for appellant Robert M. Block.

Abraham Hecht, Forest Hills, N.Y., for appellee Marsha Block.

Bigham Englar Jones & Houston, New York City, for appellee American Airlines, Inc.

Before OAKES, Chief Judge, FEINBERG and WALKER, Circuit Judges.

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Robert M. Block, a pilot for American Airlines, appeals an amended order and judgment entered on October 10, 1989, by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Reena Raggi, Judge, awarding his former wife, Marsha Ann Block, a money judgment in the amount of $60,628.29 for matrimonial support obligations arising from May 1986 until April 1989. The judgment was to be satisfied, pending a partial stay for appeal, from a fund then amounting to $61,200 deducted from Robert Block's pay and deposited into the registry of the district court pursuant to a federal interpleader action brought by American Airlines. We affirm in part and vacate and remand in part.


Pursuant to a divorce decree rendered by the New York State Supreme Court for Nassau County on February 4, 1986, Marsha Block was entitled to support payments from Robert Block at the rate of $450 per week from November 14, 1984, through November 14, 1989, and at the rate of $260 per week from November 21, 1989, through November 21, 1990. When Robert Block failed to meet his maintenance obligations, Marsha Block brought successive actions in the Supreme Court for Nassau County to reduce the arrears owed to final judgment. New York law provides that unless support obligations are entered pursuant to final judgment, they subsequently may be modified or cancelled if the defaulting spouse becomes unable to pay or if there is a substantial change in circumstances. See N.Y.Dom.Rel.Law. Secs. 236, Pt. B(9)(b), 244 (McKinney Supp.1990). Marsha Block obtained judgments on May 6, 1987, and August 25, 1987, for a total of $17,416.88, corresponding to arrears owed from May 23, 1986, to June 1, 1987. She was also awarded funds for costs and attorney's fees associated with these two actions.

The instant litigation in federal court arose from Marsha Block's attempt to garnish Robert Block's wages from American Airlines. In June 1986, Marsha Block served an income execution on American Airlines pursuant to Section 5241 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules ("CPLR"), directing garnishment of $900 per week of Robert Block's wages. American Airlines initially declined to honor the income execution for fear that the law of Texas, where Robert Block was then a resident, prohibited it from complying. In December 1987, Marsha Block sued American Airlines in Nassau County Supreme Court to enforce the income execution. In response, American...

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