If you have ever come home from a trip to discover a paper titled “default judgment” posted to your apartment, then you know how that a default judgment is like a school bully. Default judgments are entered without any opportunity for you to defend yourself, they can extremely intimidating, and they really mess with your life.
What is a default judgment?
A default judgment occurs when a defendant fails to file a written response in court after being served with court papers. For example, Jim’s world was turned upside-down when he found out that a default judgment was entered against him. Jim went on a work retreat for two weeks in Moab. Jim slid his rent payment under his apartment manager’s office before he left. However, unfortunately, his apartment manager didn’t see the envelope and accidentally kicked it under a rug. Thinking that Jim failed to pay his rent, the apartment manager started eviction proceedings against Jim. When Jim got home, he found court papers posted to his door, including something titled, “Order of Restitution,” and another one titled, “Default Judgment.” The Order of Restitution stated that Jim must immediately vacate his apartment and that a sheriff is authorized to forcibly remove him. The Default Judgment orders Jim to pay his landlord $5,000. Jim is flabbergasted. He didn’t even know there was a Court case against him. How did this happen? As it turns out, a notice to pay rent and court papers were delivered to Jim’s flakey girlfriend, Becky, who was staying in Jim’s apartment while he was out of town. Becky meant to tell Jim about these papers but figured it could wait until he got home from Moab. However, when Jim got back to his apartment, it was too late. The time to respond to the court papers had already run out, and the court entered a default judgment against Jim for failing to appear to defend himself.
What can you do if a default judgment is entered against you?
If you discover that a default judgment was entered against you, you may still have options. Default judgments are disfavored under the law because they are entered without hearing a response from the defendant. The Utah Supreme Court prefers to give defendants an opportunity to defend themselves before entering a judgment. Therefore, if you have a good excuse for failing to respond, the Court will likely “set aside” the default judgment and give you a chance to present your defense at trial. For example, in the earlier example, Jim didn’t even know that there was a lawsuit when a default judgment was entered against him. His failure to respond to the Court papers was not his fault. He never saw the court papers and Becky never mentioned them. Because Jim has a good excuse for not filing a response, he can file a motion to re-open the case. If Jim hires a good attorney who can make the correct legal arguments based on ‘excusable neglect’ or ‘insufficient service of process’, then there is a good chance that the Court will set aside the default judgment and give him a chance to defend himself at trial. Don’t be intimidated by an unfair default judgment. Like a school bully, they are often not as tough as they first appear. We can help you defeat your school bully. If you have received a default judgment and never had a fair opportunity to defend yourself, call the legal professionals at Hepworth, Murray & Associates. We can help you get rid of the default judgment and get on with your life.DISCLAIMERThis article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and is not a substitute for competent legal counsel. This article was created by Utah Litigation Attorney Zachary C. Myers. Jim is a fictional character. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.
Put our family on a good path with thoughts on estate planning. Practical and put information in perspective for our situation personally. We could not have arrived at a course of action without their help. Thank you so much!read more
My experience was exceptional with Benjamin Hepworth, as Ben is very patient and has extreme legal knowledge. Our case was very trying and the other lawyer was not professional and enjoyed throwing obstacles continually in our path. Thankfully Ben is very tactful and I really enjoyed his personal commitment to our case, yes I will use Ben again in any legal matters and look forward to working with him . Once again thank you.read more
Ben, Sonja and their associates dealt with me in a very professional manner. I was pleased to hear they offered a free consultation to advise which attorney I’d be interested in hiring. Ben and Sonja spent over an hour listening to me discuss details on my case and were very accomadating and helpful in their conversation and feedback. I felt that I was cared for there at their law firm, that I wasn’t just a number, and I developed a relationship of trust. When I wasn’t able to hire either attorney (long story) they without hesitation sent me my retainer back in full. No questions asked. If I had the opportunity again, I would totally hire Ben or Sonja!! They were wonderful. And when I had sent a text to the front desk , they always responded quickly. So impressed!! Thanks again!!read more
Michael seemed very passionate about helping me with my case (traffic citation issue) and was more interested in correcting a wrong than simply collecting a fee for a service. Interactions with him and his staff have been professsional. I would definitely recommend.read more
Our family hired Hepworth & Associates and was assigned Ben Lawrence as our attorney. Ben was very professional in representing our case. He provided support by answering questions, researching appeal court decisions, and demonstrating a good understanding of best practices in family law. During the trial, Ben was able to maintain a calm and collected demeanor. His skills as an attorney helped our family through a challenging time as he guided us through the complicated legal system. After the trial he continued to reach out to our family to check in and to provide updates.read more
After being taken advantage of by another law firm, I was extremely happy to find and work with this law firm. I had the pleasure of working with Tyler Call and Chelsea Baker at Hepworth and Associates. They were always available and willing to answer any and all of my questions. They provided me with the information I needed to know and made me feel very comfortable with the case I was dealing with. Most importantly, the took the necessary steps to have a positive result with my hearing. I will forever be grateful for their work and highly recommend them for anyone needing legal assistance.read more
I just wanna say a HUGGEEE thank you to Chelsea and Michael Hepworth in helping me getting my case dismissed!!!!! not only was Michael patient and understood my situation but he also made sure i wasn’t railroaded at the end of the day!! Chelsea did such a great job in gathering my information together and help me with my pay plan! I had to pay excessive fees for my impound fees and was short on funds and she completely understand where i was coming from! i recommend these guys to you not only are they SHARP but they get it down, my case is now dismissed COMPLETELY!! thank you Hepworth & Associates!!!read more
Hepworth & Associates is amazing!!!! I would recommend them to all of my family and friends. They did a great job at communicating with me through the whole process and made sure my case was handled quickly and professionally. Sonja was very knowledgeable and made me feel at ease through the whole process. She answered all of my questions very quickly and made sure I knew what to expect through the process. I am so grateful I went with Hepworth!read more
yes!! they saved me. I was being sued.they were wonderful and quickly got the other party to drop the case that should never have been started. they let us make payments on the lawyer fees. tyread more
They are the best at what they do, very professional. I haven’t ever felt like just a client, I felt like they actually cared and tried as a great mentor when I was lost, willing to be their and give advice on a friendly level to. And although I wasn’t the easiest to deal with late on payment and keep wanting to hold off, Hepworth was always their on time to deal the best. Give it up for my man Ryan b he’s awsome and very fair. Hepworth is the way to go. Great service is what you can expect.read more
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I was facing a powerful multibiollion dollar corporation in a law suit! Me Hepworth and his associates did an outstanding job in representing me! I am so pleased with my representation! They kept me informed the entire time! They were sensitive to my concerns! They helped me get a very good settlement!If you want a bulldog attorney on your side, I can’t give you a better recommendation than Michael Hepworth and associates!read more
I called just to see if anything could be done for my situation. They had an easy form for me to fill out for the attorney to review before deciding if I should come in for a free consultation. It was so easy and the secretary was very professional and kind. Even if I don't have a case, I will definitely be contacting them in the future if the need arises.read more
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When I started looking for a divorce lawyer I was nervous because I had been married for 20 years (2nd marriage). So I googled inexpensive divorce lawyers and guess what, your law firm came up first. Coincidence? Maybe because I normally would look further but I had a good feeling about this firm. Turns out I was right. Ben Lawrence got in touch with me he listened to my story gave me his advice went over costs and how it worked and I was hooked. He was very intelligent, knowledgeable, and willing to help me the whole way through the process. He was the best person/lawyer I could have ever found. And I went with my gut!! He is the best!!!read more
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my fiancée had to call there office repeatedly to get the status of my case. My fiancée singlehandedly kept the case from getting dismissed because it had sat carelessly dormant for so long and it was her that had to bring it to there attention. And then, when we suggested a way for them to address the obstacles created by my ex-wife and the careless mishandling of my matter (I suggested filing a Motion to Waive the Requirement for Respondent to Take the Parenting Class), your office responded that it couldn’t be done, when in fact, I knew it could be. I paid a paralegal to draft a motion, forwarded it to you and then your office copied it in and submitted it to the court…then the magic happened. The case was resolved and the divorce was granted. I provided you with the legal fodder to complete the job. I was told my case flat-fee agreement (in flat fee cases , I understand that I will not be billed for phone calls, faxes, court appearances, attorney preparation time, paralegal time, or any other hourly fees for work done by the Firm.) than I got a bill 2 years later for 540.98 said they could not reach me... also never got any final paperwork from them... I also did upfront fee $1,300.00 and now its at collections ... I did turn them in to the Utah State Bar...read more