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Default Judgments

In the most primitive concepts of justice, one of the fundamental requisites for the exercise of judicial authority over the person or property of another is notice.  The exceptions to this rule are rare indeed.

Skarpinski v. Veterans of Foreign Wars, 98 N.E.2d 858, 859 (Ill. App. Ct. 1951)

Default is a drastic remedy.  Consequently, the process used must be carefully followed, including providing the proper notice to the party against which default is being sought (“defaulting party”).  Default judgments sought under Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2) require a two-step process.  Counsel must not conflate the two procedures and must rigorously adhere to the time frames specified in Fed. R. Civ. P. 55.

First, there must be an entry of default, either by the Clerk of the Court or by a court order directing the Clerk to enter the default.  A written request for an entry of default pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a) shall be accompanied by an affidavit or declaration showing that the defaulting party: (1) is not an infant, in the military, or an incompetent person; (2) has failed to plead or otherwise defend the action; and (3) has been properly served with the pleading.  A copy of the proof of service must also be attached to the motion if not already docketed.

Second, there must be a motion for default judgment.  A party moving for a default judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2) shall file a motion and supporting legal documents and properly notice the motion for presentment.  Service of the motion for default judgment and notice of presentment must occur at least seven (7) days before the motion for default judgment is presented.  The Court will strike all motions for default judgment that fail to provide sufficient notice.  The moving party shall also append as exhibits to the motion for default judgment: (1) a copy of the Clerk’s entry of default; (2) supporting affidavits or declarations; and (3) a proposed form of default judgment.  The motion, exhibits, and notice of presentment shall be mailed by regular and certified mail to the defaulting party at the last known address of the defaulting party.  A copy of the return receipt evidencing delivery, when returned by the post office, shall be filed with the Court.  In cases involving joint and several liability, it may be premature to move for a default judgment against one defendant in a multi-defendant case because a damages hearing will not be held until the liability of each non-defaulting defendant has been resolved.  See In re Uranium Antitrust Litig., 617F.2d 1248, 1262 (7th Cir. 1980). However, a determination of damages against the defaulting party can be made if the claims against the non-defaulting parties are dismissed.  See Domanus v. Lewcki, 742 F.3d 290, 304(7th Cir. 2014).

As provided by Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(1) a default judgment for a sum certain may be sought from the clerk by written request accompanied by an affidavit providing the information detailed in the rule.

Failure to comply with this standing order will result in the denial of the motion.

Note: The court does not control nor can it guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this information. Neither is it intended to endorse any view expressed nor reflect its importance by inclusion in this site.