In this week's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I want to answer a question that is frequently asked by clients and prospective clients who have claims against someone else, or by businesses that I represent that may have been sued by another party, and that is, “What is a default judgment?” If you have been sued in Oklahoma, default judgment is the very thing you want to avoid. In next week's Freedom Friday blog, I'm going to answer a different, but related question, “How can my small business avoid a default judgment?” But, in today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I'm going to explain a default judgment to begin with.
In Oklahoma, if you are sued and issued a regular summons that has not been modified by the 35-day rule, you have twenty (20) days to file a response to the lawsuit which is legally called an “Answer.” If you do not file a response or Answer within 20 days, you are in default, and the “Plaintiff,” which is the person or company that sued you, can request a default judgment to be granted in the case against you. Recent Oklahoma case law has required that a motion for default judgment be filed in all cases, but a hearing or notice is not necessarily required depending on the circumstances.
There are certain requirements in order obtain a default judgment, besides filing a motion. Most judges will require proof of service as an exhibit to the motion, and if the defendant is an individual, the Plaintiff will need to file an affidavit which proves the defendant is not in military service. Judges in Oklahoma County also require proof of damages, but this not always a requirement. Lastly, some judges require a hearing, but notice is only required if there has been any communication with the defendant. For example, and this happened in one of my recent cases, the defendant contacted me and stated he was going to file a response or Answer to the lawsuit but never did. In this case, a hearing on the motion for default judgment must be set and notice provided to the defendant of the hearing.
Don't forget, next week I will be answering the question, “How can my small business avoid a default judgment?”
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