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Obtaining Relief from Default Judgments under North Carolina Law

The North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure require a defendant in a civil lawsuit to file an answer or other responsive pleading, such as a motion to dismiss, within thirty days after service of a complaint and summons. If the defendant does not timely respond, or otherwise contact plaintiff’s counsel, the plaintiff may move for entry of default and default judgment. If that judgment is obtained, the defendant may then receive a “Notice of Right to Designate Exemptions.” If you have recently received such a Notice, then you may still be able to fight the default judgment. Call the Raleigh civil litigation attorneys of Maginnis Law at 919.480.8526 to discuss how we might assist you.

The rule allowing relief from a default judgment is North Carolina Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). This rule allows a judge, in his or her sole discretion, to set aside a default judgment in situations involving, among other things: mistake, inadvertence, surprise, misrepresentation, fraud, or excusable neglect. There is also a “catch all” provision in Rule 60(b) which states that a judge can grant relief for “any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.” Courts often cite this language when it would be inequitable to impose a large default judgment.

While Rule 60(b) motions are not always successful, they are a relatively inexpensive option for defendants looking for relief from a costly default judgment. Before paying a default judgment, contact the Raleigh civil litigation attorneys of Maginnis Law for a free consultation. Our lawyers are experienced in arguing Rule 60(b) motions and can evaluate and discuss whether your case may prove successful.

As a small law firm, Maginnis Law is able to work under a variety of billing arrangements, including flat rate and hourly. We regularly represent clients in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Wake Forest, Clayton, and the rest of the Triangle. To speak with one of our civil litigation lawyers, contact us at 919.480.8526. You may also submit confidential email inquiries using our contact page.