PGE v. Ebasco Services, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 07-25-2013
  • Case #: S060584
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J. for the Court; En Banc.

A default judgment awarding monetary relief where the underlying complaint did not state the specific amount of money or damages sought violates ORCP 67 C. Such a defect does not render the default judgment void and subject to collateral attack, but instead renders the judgment voidable and not subject to collateral attack.

Portland General Electric Company (PGE) sought review of a Court of Appeals decision that reversed and remanded a trial court order denying Lexington Insurance Company's motion to set aside a default judgment against it. PGE settled a personal-injury action with a former employee for asbestos exposure, and subsequently sued certain insurers with which PGE held policies during the time the exposure occurred. PGE alleged that its insurers breached their contractual obligations to indemnify PGE for the settlement. Lexington was one such insurer. However, PGE did not specify an amount of monetary damages resulting from Lexington's breach. Three years later, PGE moved for a default order against Lexington for the policy maximum plus costs and attorney fees. The trial court granted the motion. Lexington then moved to set aside the judgment under ORCP 71. The court denied the motion, Lexington appealed, and the Court of Appeals determined (1) the default judgment was void because PGE failed to specify an amount of damages in its complaint, and (2) under ORCP 67 C, a trial court lacks jurisdiction to enter a default judgment where the complaint does not specify the amount of monetary relief sought. On review, the Supreme Court concluded that the default judgment violated ORCP 67 C because the complaint lacked a specific monetary amount, but the defect rendered the judgment voidable, and thus not subject to collateral attack. The Court held that due process did not demand nullification of the judgment by collateral challenge because Lexington had multiple prejudgment opportunities to challenge the judgment. Reversed and remanded.

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