California Court of Appeal
84 Cal. Rptr. 3d 351 (2008)
Omotayo Fasuyi (plaintiff) was injured when brake fluid dripped onto his hand and forehead. Fasuyi was an African American, and the brake fluid caused his skin to whiten. Fasuyi sued Permatex, Inc. (Permatex) (defendant) for his injuries. Fasuyi’s attorney worked with the legal department of Illinois Tool Works (ITW), Permatex’s parent company, to serve the complaint on Permatex. Fasuyi filed an affidavit that the complaint had been served, but the affidavit did not state that a statement of damages had also been served. ITW forwarded the complaint to an insurance carrier to defend. However, no responsive pleading was filed. Fasuyi’s attorney then requested an entry of default against Permatex. Despite having previously contacted ITW’s legal department, Fasuyi’s attorney did not remind or warn ITW before requesting the default entry. Fasuyi also did not include a statement of damages with the request for default. The trial court granted the default, held a hearing on damages, and entered a judgment against Permatex in the amount of $236,500 plus costs. Fasuyi later filed an amended proof of service, claiming that a statement of damages had been served on Permatex with the original complaint. Permatex moved to have the default judgment ruled invalid because: (1) no statement of damages had been served on Permatex before the judgment was entered and (2) Permatex’s prior failure to respond was due to inadvertence or excusable neglect. The trial court denied the motion, and Permatex appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Richman, J.)
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