Sometimes, achieving a favorable ruling on liability and damages, while an enormously important step, isn’t always the end of the line for getting the compensation you deserve. In certain circumstances, you may need to undertake additional legal actions to collect the money you deserve, including filing garnishment actions against other entities. Sometimes, it also involves seeking default judgments. To make sure you have access to all of the procedural techniques available to get the money owed to you, make sure you have retained a skilled Georgia collections attorney.
One example of a case in which the award of damages was only the beginning was the litigation undertaken by a lien services company. The lien services company sued a health care and logistics services provider. The lien services company achieved success in that case, obtaining a money judgment. To seek out the money it was owed, the lien services company filed a garnishment action against a different corporation.
In this garnishment case, the defendant took no action in response to the lien services company’s initial filing. Due to the defendant’s inaction, the lien services company asked the trial judge to issue a default judgment. A default judgment means that the defaulted party failed to take the required steps within the mandatory time period established by the law. Generally, for a defendant in Georgia, the law allows 30 days to file an answer. After those 30 days, if the defense has submitted no answer, it is in default. After a defendant is in default for 15 days, the trial court can enter a default judgment. Once that happens, the default judgment carries the same impact as a judgment on the merits.
Georgia law generally favors having cases resolved on the merits, instead of on procedural technicalities, so Georgia disfavors default judgments. There are several bases upon which a judge can set aside a default judgment. Nevertheless, if you’ve succeeded in obtaining a default judgment, there may be ways of working to hold onto that judgment even if the opposing party shows up belatedly and asks the court to set aside that judgment in your favor. The law says that, in order to get a default judgment set aside, the opposing party must show that there was a mistake, accident, or fraud and that the opposing party was completely not negligent and devoid of blame for the events that led to the default judgment’s entry. That means that, if you can show that your opposing party has committed some sort of wrongful action or inaction, you can use that to keep your default judgment in place.
In the lien services company’s case, it was able to demonstrate such negligence. The services company served papers to an outdated address because the defendant had failed to keep up to date its information with the Secretary of State regarding its registered agent and address. By failing to do that, the opposing party was not free of negligence or fault, so it was not entitled to an order setting aside the default, and the lien services company was entitled to continue going forward in its efforts to get the money owed to it.
Wherever you are in the commercial litigation process, the experienced Atlanta collections attorneys at Poole Huffman, LLC are equipped to help. Our attorneys have spent many years providing effective representation that fully protects our clients’ interests. Contact our attorneys online or by calling 404-373-4008 to schedule your confidential consultation.
More blog posts:
Contractor’s Liens – Part II, Atlanta Business Litigation Attorneys Blog, Jan. 22, 2014
Contractor’s Liens – Part I, Atlanta Business Litigation Attorneys Blog, Oct. 19, 2013
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