Court overturns judgment for fall victim; defaulted defendant was improperly denied opportunity to dispute damages
Teresa Stanley fell in the lobby of the Wynnestone Apartment complex in Oakland County. When she filed suit, the complex and its insurance company both neglected the paperwork and were eventually defaulted for failing to appear. Almost a year later, they attempted to set aside the default when she attempted to enter a default judgment. The trial judge refused to allow a hearing on the damage claim and did not allow the defaulted parties to cross-examine Stanley about her injuries. It then entered a judgment in her favor for $100,000.00. The defaulted parties appealed the default and the judgment amount. The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial judge that the defendants had failed to show "good cause" for failing to appear, and on that basis it upheld the default. It set aside the judgment, however, reminding the judge that even after a default, the defendants were entitled to dispute the amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff.