Default Judgment

Utah Courts define default judgment as “the order entered in favor of the party who filed the complaint (in some case types ca lled the petition). This usually happens when the defendant failed to response to the petition on the time allowed or failed to appear in court. Simply put, a default judgment is a judgment without a trial since the defendant did not appear in court to put up a defense or answer the complaint.

Example Sentence

A default judgment is issued against a defendant who failed to comply with an order of the court to appear for a hearing.

Case Study

In the case Faust v. KAI Technologies, Faust filed a claim for unpaid wages and other monetary obligations from KAI Technologies who employed him as director of engineering. KAI did not contest any of the claims made by Faust so a default judgment was entered in favor of Faust. By not contesting the claim made by Faust, KAI is admitting liability and hence will pay all the financial obligation to Faust as set by the court. The court decided on the validity of the claims. For instance, it granted only $1500 as attorney  fees instead of the $30,000 that was requested by Faust.

Other Important Information

Under Rule 55, the clerk of the court can enter a default judgment for certain conditions. The clerk is allowed this function when the amount to be paid to the complainant is easy to calculate. In cases where the amount to be paid is calculated based on evidence presented by the complainant and it is somewhat complicated, the court will decide on the matter by conducting hearing. Moreover, Rule 55 specifies that no default judgment shall be entered against the State of Utah, an officer or any government agency unless the claimant is able to produce satisfactory evidence to the court to back up such petition. According to Utah Courts, a default judgment can be set aside if there are reasonable reasons why the defendant was not able to answer the complaint or appear in court. When a default judgment is set aside or vacated, the defendant must answer the petition in the prescribed time usually 30 days from receipt of notice from court. The case is therefore re-opened. On the procedure on how to answer a complaint or petition, see here.

Photo courtesy of Christensen & Hymas.

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