Sometimes You Get Away with Default (but don’t count on it)

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There are small exceptions where the courts of Virginia allow the defaulting party off the hook.

July 27, 2020
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

As an almost universal rule here in Virginia, failing to show up for court or respond to a lawsuit is a bad idea. Consequences include default judgment against you without the right to defend or make your case. Courts simply enter judgment and the consequences of that judgment will follow.

However, and as is often the case around here, there are small exceptions where the courts of Virginia allow the defaulting party off the hook. Sullivan Mechanical Contractors, Inc. v. KBE Building Corporation is just such a case. In Sullivan Mechanical, the Federal District Court for the Western District of Virginia was faced with a Motion to Vacate Default Judgment from KBE. The facts are laid out in the opinion, but basically come down to the usual subcontractor not paid by the general contractor and general contractor has reasons for non-payment. Subcontractor, Sullivan Mechanical, sued KBE and KBE failed to respond in a timely manner. One day after the deadline for response had passed, Sullivan moved for entry of default and the clerk entered the default that same day. KBE moved to vacate the default a mere 6 days after entry of default.

Mr. Hill may be contacted at


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