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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. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

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