Judge: Lisa R. Jaskol, Case: 22STCV07063, Date: 2024-06-11 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 22STCV07063    Hearing Date: June 11, 2024    Dept: 28

Having considered the documents submitted in support of a default judgment, the Court rules as follows. 

BACKGROUND 

On February 25, 2022, Plaintiff Oliver Ojeil (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against Defendants Ondrey Denise Thomas (“Defendant”) and Does 1-10 for motor vehicle tort. 

On June 7, 2023, Plaintiff filed a proof of service showing substituted service on Defendant of the summons, complaint, statement of damages, and other documents on May 22, 2023.  The statement of damages listed $200,000.00 in general damages ($100,000.00 for pain, suffering, and inconvenience and $100,000.00 for emotional distress), $10,000.00 for past medical expenses, and $50,000.00 for future medical expenses. 

On July 7, 2023, the clerk entered Defendant’s default. 

On May 23, 2024, the Court dismissed the Doe defendants without prejudice at Plaintiff’s request. 

Also on May 23, 2024, Plaintiff filed a request for Court judgment to be heard on June 11, 2024. 

PARTY’S REQUEST 

Plaintiff Oliver Ojeil asks the Court to enter a default judgment against Defendant Ondrey Denise Thomas and award Plaintiff $254,021.15, consisting of $200,000.00 in general damages, $53,512.54 in special damages, and $508.61 in costs. 

LEGAL STANDARD 

A.      Default judgment 

“[With exceptions that do not apply here,] [a] party seeking a default judgment on declarations must use mandatory Request for Entry of Default (Application to Enter Default) (form CIV-100) . . . The following must be included in the documents filed with the clerk: 

“(1)  Except in unlawful detainer cases, a brief summary of the case identifying the parties and the nature of plaintiff's claim; 

“(2)  Declarations or other admissible evidence in support of the judgment requested; 

“(3)  Interest computations as necessary; 

“(4)  A memorandum of costs and disbursements; 

“(5)  A declaration of nonmilitary status for each defendant against whom judgment is sought; 

“(6)  A proposed form of judgment; 

“(7)  A dismissal of all parties against whom judgment is not sought or an application for separate judgment against specified parties under Code of Civil Procedure section 579, supported by a showing of grounds for each judgment; 

“(8)  Exhibits as necessary; and 

“(9)  A request for attorney fees if allowed by statute or by the agreement of the parties.” 

(Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1800(a).)

B.       Damages 

 On a request for default judgment, “[w]here a cause of action is stated in the complaint, plaintiff merely needs to introduce evidence establishing a prima facie case for damages.”  (L. Edmon & C. Karnow, Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (Rutter 2023) ¶ 5:213.1, p. 5-56, citing Johnson v. Stanhiser (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 357, 361 [trial court erred in applying preponderance of the evidence standard].) 

 The relief granted to a plaintiff upon entry of a defendant's default cannot exceed the amount demanded in the complaint or, for personal injury cases where damages may not be stated in the complaint, the amount listed in the statement of damages. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 580, subd. (a), 585, subd. (b).) “The notice requirement of section 580 was designed to insure fundamental fairness.” (Becker v. S.P.V. Construction Co. (1980) 27 Cal.3d 489, 494.) The statute insures that “defendants in cases which involve a default judgment have adequate notice of the judgments that may be taken against them. [Citation.] ‘If a judgment other than that which is demanded is taken against him, [the defendant] has been deprived of his day in court—a right to a hearing on the matter adjudicated.’ ’’ (Id. at p. 493.) A trial court exceeds its jurisdiction if it awards damages in excess of the amount specified in the complaint or statement of damages. (Id. at p. 494.) 

DISCUSSION 

Plaintiff is requesting $53,512.54 in special damages but his declaration provides support for only $8,127.85 in special damages (for past medical expenses).  Plaintiff listed $50,000.00 for future medical expenses in his statement of damages but he has not submitted evidence supporting a request for future medical expenses.  Therefore, $45,384.69 of Plaintiff’s request for special damages is unsupported. 

The Court denies the request for default judgment. 

CONCLUSION 

The Court DENIES without prejudice Plaintiff Oliver Ojeil application for default judgment against Defendant Ondrey Denise Thomas filed on May 23, 2024. 

The Court sets an Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal for Failure to Resubmit Default Judgment Packet for 08/12/2024 at 08:30 AM in Department 28 at Spring Street Courthouse. 

Plaintiff is ordered to give notice of this ruling.