5th Circuit Blog

A Curious Decision on Default Judgments

By Razvan Ungureanu on January 27, 2015

Assume the following facts: you file a complaint, serve the defendant, the defendant refuses to answer, you present competent evidence to prove your damages on the claims alleged in the complaint, and you obtain a default judgment.  Should the defendant be able to overturn the default judgment on appeal?  Many legal practitioners would answer no, but a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit recently held otherwise.  So long as a complaint contains insufficient factual allegations to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a defendant against whom a default judgment was entered can overturn that default judgment for the first time on appeal.  That is so even if the plaintiff introduces sufficient evidence at an evidentiary hearing to cure any insufficient-factual-allegation deficiencies the complaint may contain.

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Posted In: Civil Procedure

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Exhibits to a Complaint and Federal Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

By Razvan Ungureanu on June 20, 2014

First year Civil Procedure students have heard the well-pleaded complaint rule again and again: whether a claim arises under the laws of the United States so as to confer federal subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 depends on whether a federal question appears on the face of the plaintiff’s well-pleaded complaint. But what makes up the well-pleaded complaint for purposes of the rule? Must the federal question appear in the complaint’s allegations, or can it also appear in an exhibit attached to the complaint?

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Posted In: Civil Procedure , Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

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The Danger of Alternative, Inconsistent Pleadings

By Razvan Ungureanu on June 05, 2014

Though both federal and state civil procedure rules widely permit alternative, inconsistent pleadings and though litigants widely use such pleadings, pleading alternative, inconsistent claims or affirmative defenses sometimes exposes litigants to dangers they may not have foreseen at the time of pleading. The Fifth Circuit’s decision in Gabarick v. Laurin Mar. (Am.) Inc. illustrates one such danger.

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Posted In: Civil Procedure

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