Default Judgment Was Void When A Statement Of Damages Was Improperly Used

In Dhawan v. Biring, the Court of Appeal again addressed the propriety of using a statement of damages to obtain a default. The Court held that where a complaint did not specify the amount of damages sought, a default judgment was void­ ­­— not merely voidable — and subject to collateral attack at any time. Moreover, the Court held that Plaintiff did not meet the requirements of Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 580 by serving defendant with a statement of damages under Sec. 425.11 or Sec. 425.115, when the underlying claims did not involve personal injury or wrongful death, and the default judgment was for compensatory damages only.

This is an important reminder to attorneys when filing complaints not involving personal injury or wrongful death to include an amount of compensatory damages in the complaint if they want to be able to obtain a default judgment.

For more information, or if you need legal assistance, please contact the Wagner Legal Group at or (310) 857-5293.

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