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Default Judgments

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We often get prospective clients who have had a default judgment entered against them.  While, sometimes, we are able to help them set aside the judgment, sometimes, we cannot.  This post is designed so that you may better understand what a default judgment is, and how, if possible, you can set it aside.

What is a Default Judgment?

Obtaining a default judgment is a two-step process.  First, an order of default is entered.  This means that the responding party, often called the defendant has failed to answer the complaint and allegations against them.  Rule 55 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure provides the procedure to obtain default against a party who has not answered or responded in the allotted time.  After entry of default, a plaintiff can then move for entry of a default judgment.  Once issued by the court, a default judgment has the same power of any judgment.  The party holding the judgment can then move to execute on a defendant’s property, garnish wages, or take other actions authorized by law to collect on the judgment. 

Can a Default Judgment Be Set Aside?

Even after a default judgment is entered, it is possible, in some circumstances, to have the default judgment set aside.  The party seeking to set aside the default judgment has to file a motion with the court and provide a basis under Rule 60(b) of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure for why the judgment should be set aside.  Certain actions, such as waiting until after 90 days from the date of the entry of a default judgment, will mean that your judgment will not be set aside.

See an Attorney Before Default is Entered Against You

If you are served with a summons or complaint in Utah, it is imperative that you see an attorney who can advise you of your rights.  Doing nothing, or ignoring the complaint, will almost guarantee that a plaintiff will obtain a default judgment against you.  It is easier and cheaper to protect your rights before a default or default judgment has been entered, than trying to undo it later.  If a default judgment has been entered against you, or if you have been served with a complaint, contact us at Huntsman | Lofgran, and we will be happy to discuss your case with you.

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