Donald S. Neumann, Jr. of Montfort, Healy, McGuire & Salley LLP successfully vacated a $600,000 default judgment on behalf of a Virginia resident in a personal injury matter.
On November 14, 2013, the defendant, a resident of Virginia, was involved in a motor vehicle accident with another car that was occupied by its driver and one passenger. The driver resided in Georgia, and his passenger resided in Maryland. The complaint did not set forth the state where the accident happened, and no connection to New York was pleaded or established.
The accident happened in Maryland. Nevertheless, the plaintiffs filed their action in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, where they obtained a default judgment against the defendant and were awarded a judgment in the total amount of $600,000 ($300,000 for each plaintiff as demanded in the complaint).
After it was retained by the Defendant’s insurance company, Montfort, Healy filed a motion to vacate the default judgment and dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter. The Court (Robert W. Sweet, J.) agreed, holding that: “The Due Process Clause protects an individual’s liberty interest in not being subject to the binding judgments of a forum with which he has established no meaningful contacts, ties or relations.” Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 471-72, 105 S. Ct. 2174, 2181, 85 L. Ed. 2d 528 (1985) (quoting Int’l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of Unemployment Comp. & Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 319, 66 S. Ct. 154, 160, 90 L. Ed. 95 (1945). Judge Sweet vacated the default judgment and dismissed the complaint for want of personal jurisdiction.
The decision of Judge Sweet was selected for publication by Leagle.com and can be read by clicking here.