Coyness is Nice. Just Not When Seeking a Default Judgment

Three business people discussing topic

If you’re going to sue, state the amount you are suing for. Don’t be coy about it.

March 4, 2019
Garret Murai - California Construction Law Blog

As Morrissey of the Smith’s sang: Coyness is nice, but Coyness can stop you, from saying all the things in life you’d like to.

It’s not uncommon in litigation to see a complaint asking for “damages according to proof.” Call it laziness. Call it hiding the ball. Call it coy, even. I call it risky.

And here’s why: If a defendant doesn’t appear and you need to seek a default judgment against him, her, or it, you are barred from doing so, since you are limited to recovering the amount you sought. And last I checked, something of nothing is nothing.

In Yu v. Liberty Surplus Insurance Corporation, California Court of Appeals for the Fourth District, Case No. G054522 (December 11, 2018), one plaintiff found this out the hard way, although perhaps not quite in the way they expected it.

Mr. Murai may be contacted at gmurai@wendel.com



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