Practice Pointers: Overcoming a Default Judgment


Homeowners facing foreclosure, like defendants in other types of lawsuits, sometimes find themselves in one of the toughest spots available: facing a default judgment.  A default judgment occurs when the defendant does not respond to the lawsuit.  This allows the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) to automatically get what they want.  In a post-foreclosure eviction, for example, the foreclosing entity automatically gets an execution (which allows them to obtain possession of the home).  A recent Boston Globe article discusses the rise of default judgments in debt collection cases and the shocking fact that many defendants were never notified about the lawsuit.  This applies equally to foreclosure defense cases as well.

What should someone do if they are the victim of a default judgment?  Get a lawyer . . . right away.  Default judgments, fortunately, can be lifted if the court is convinced there is a good reason for doing so.  A lawyer can help identify possible arguments to accomplish this.  For example, I have succeeded in lifting a default judgment based on the wrong date in the lawsuit’s paperwork.  Other possible grounds include challenging service of the lawsuit and raising extenuating circumstances for the failure to originally respond to the lawsuit.

A lawyer can also help you in determining how best to fight the underlining lawsuit against you.  As I heard judges state before, the court is more likely to remove a default judgment if you can show that you have a real defense to the case.
Are you facing a default judgment?  Contact me for a consultation.