An Appeals Court in Washington state has reversed a lower court’s ruling denying a motion to vacate a default judgment 14 years after it was entered, because the individual was never properly served with a summons and complaint, even though the individual appeared in court at a hearing in the case after the judgment was entered and made payments for eight months afterwards on the debt.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Unifund CCR Partners v. Patricia Baker can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff attempted to serve a summons and complaint on the defendant at an address the defendant was using, but did not live at. The summons and complaint were served to the defendant’s sister. A default judgment was entered against the defendant, who learned of the entry months later, when she was finally given the summons and complaint. She attended a hearing and submitted a Debtor Interrogatories Form, and subsequently entered into a payment arrangement on the unpaid debt.
Fourteen years later, the defendant sought to have the default judgment vacated on the grounds she was never served with the summons or complaint. She submitted documentation showing she was not living at the address where the documents were served.
The plaintiff submitted evidence that the defendant listed the address in question on the interrogatories form and the money orders that were used to make the payments per the payment arrangement. A trial court judge denied the motion, which the defendant appealed.
Ultimately, the defendant submitted enough evidence to prove the address where the documents were served was not her usual place of abode, which was sufficient for the Appeals Court to overturn the lower court’s ruling.