It is a fundamental concept of due process that a judgment against a defendant cannot be entered unless he was given proper notice and an opportunity to defend. Code of Civil Procedure section 580 therefore provides the relief granted to the plaintiff, if there is no answer, cannot exceed that demanded in the complaint or in a statement of damages as required by section 425.11. Section 425.11 refers to the required statement which must be served prior to entry of default in an action for personal injury or wrongful death. In those actions, the complaint must not allege a specific dollar amount of damages.The purpose of sections 580 and 425.11 is to guarantee defaulting parties adequate notice of the maximum judgment that may be assessed against them. Continue reading
Over the years I have handled my fair share of quiet title cases. They are unique in several respects. The recent case of Nickell v. Matlock, Second Appellate District, highlights one unique aspect: default judgments are not allowed. Pursuant to statutes specific to quiet title actions, the court must, in all cases, require evidence of plaintiff’s title and must hear evidence that is offered as to the claims of any other defendants.
What about the circumstance when a defendant’s pleading has been struck and his default entered as a sanction? Is that defendant allowed to present evidence of title at the evidentiary hearing? Continue reading