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Maryland State Firemen’s Association v. Chaves

United States District Court for the District of Maryland
166 F.R.D. 353 (D. Md. 1996)


The Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) (plaintiff) sued John Chaves (defendant) to recover allegedly illegally solicited charitable contributions. MSFA served Chaves via first class mail. Chaves did not respond to the complaint, despite having actual knowledge of it. As a result of Chaves’s failure to respond, MSFA filed for a default judgment. The court clerk entered default judgment against Chaves for his failure to plead. Chaves appealed the judgment. Maryland law allowed service of process by certified mail. Under Rule 4(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, unless the addressee consents to waive specific service requirements, his receipt of a complaint “does not give rise to any obligation to answer the lawsuit [and] does not provide a basis for default judgment.”

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