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Justices reverse denial of car dealership’s motion to set aside default judgment

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Because a car dealership and its registered agent did not receive notice of a hearing on default judgment, the judgment entered against it was void for want of jurisdiction, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled.

Scott Jones sued Front Row Motors LLC and Jerramy Johnson, alleging Johnson rolled back the odometer and fraudulently claimed otherwise. Jones knew Johnson was in custody at the Hamilton County Community Corrections facility when he filed his lawsuit. But Jones did not make an effort to serve Johnson at the facility regarding his motion for default judgment and damages after Johnson did not appear at his deposition.

Default judgment was entered against the defendants in the amount of $34,616.73, but Jones later did not object to setting aside the judgment personally against Johnson due to potentially not providing valid service of notice to him.

Front Row Motors and Johnson appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion in failing to set aside the judgment as to the dealership.

After finding that the appellate courts had jurisdiction to entertain this appeal based on it being deemed final by operation of Trial Rule 60(C), the justices reversed the denial of Front Row Motor’s motion to set aside default judgment.

Indiana Code 23-1-24-4 provides: “A corporation’s registered agent is the corporation’s agent for service of process, notice, or demand required or permitted by law to be served on the corporation.”

“The record shows that at all relevant times during the pendency of this action Jerramy Johnson was the registered agent for Front Row Motors, LLC. Indeed Jones served Johnson in that capacity at the address listed with the Secretary (of) State, namely Johnson’s home address. But Jones knew that Johnson was not present at that address and instead was a resident of a Community Corrections facility. Despite this knowledge Jones made no effort to serve Johnson – the registered agent of Front Row Motors – at the facility,” Justice Robert Rucker wrote in Front Row Motors, LLC and Jerramy Johnson v. Scott Jones, 49S02-1311-PL-758.

“On the record before us Front Row Motors has made a prima facie showing that Jones’ service of process was a mere gesture not calculated to inform it of the default damages hearing. Because Front Row Motors did not receive notice of the hearing, the default judgment entered against it was void for want of jurisdiction. The trial court thus abused its discretion in denying Front Row Motor’s motion to set aside the judgment.”
http://media.ibj.com/Lawyer/websites/opinions/index.php?pdf=2014/march/03271401rdr.pdf

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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