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When a defendant gets an extension for a hearing for damages does that mean he has the opportunity to present a defense?

Connecticut

My defendant did not submit an answer to my complaint. I was awarded a judgment by default and was given an appearance date for determination of damages. Then the defendant got a continuance for that hearing and hired a lawyer. Now what happens? Can the defendant still present a defense? Does he need to submit an answer? Is there any consequence for his non reply to my complaint? Should I get legal advise?

1 reply

Jul 31, 2018
The quick answer to your question is "yes" if you don't feel completely comfortable. And, as you have a case that is moving through the court it is almost always in your best interest to have an attorney counsel or assist you.

The "meat" of your question is more difficult to provide helpful information for without specifically defined language. If the default judgment was entered and the only thing that happened was that the hearing to determine damages was continued to a later date - the ability to present a defense is limited. Connecticut statutes Sec. 52-221 "Hearing in damages: Evidence. Notice." states that " (a) In any hearing in damages upon default suffered or after demurrer overruled, the defendant shall not be permitted to offer evidence to contradict any allegations in the plaintiff's complaint, except such as relate to the amount of damage, unless he has given notice to the plaintiff of his intention to contradict such allegations and of the subject matter which he intends to contradict. . ." That is, unless certain actions are taken, the defendant can offer evidence relating to the amount of the damages, but not to contradict the allegations in the complaint.

Note, however, that Sec. 52-212 allows a default judgment to be set aside under certain circumstances, and within a certain amount of time. That sections states, in part, that: "(a) Any judgment rendered or decree passed upon a default or nonsuit in the Superior Court may be set aside, within four months following the date on which it was rendered or passed, and the case reinstated on the docket, on such terms in respect to costs as the court deems reasonable, upon the complaint or written motion of any party or person prejudiced thereby, showing reasonable cause, or that a good cause of action or defense in whole or in part existed at the time of the rendition of the judgment or the passage of the decree, and that the plaintiff or defendant was prevented by mistake, accident or other reasonable cause from prosecuting the action or making the defense . . ."

The ability to reinstate the case is by no means a given, but default judgments are disfavored.

I hope you reach a satisfactory resolution of your claim.
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