Miami, FL - Personal Injury lawyer represented Appellant with appealing the order denying the motion to vacate the Default Final Judgment.
Dominique Moxey sought $3,000.00 in damages for injuries sustained
during an altercation between Moxey and Young. The record contains a final
default judgment that was entered against Young on April 3, 2019, granting
$4,496.97 in damages to Moxey. The April 3rd trial on damages was held at
an earlier time than what had been scheduled in the notice, and Young was
not present at the trial. The case was subsequently reset for a non-jury trial
on April 30, 2019. Following the re-scheduled trial, on May 1, 2019, the trial
court entered judgment in favor of Moxey for only $319.95 in damages.
However, the record does not contain an order vacating the April 3rd
A writ of garnishment was filed against Young on July 9, 2020. Young
claims that it was at this point that she realized that the April 3rd Judgment
had not been vacated, even though the trial was reset and a subsequent
judgment was entered. On July 13, 2020, Young filed a motion to vacate final
judgment and sought to stay the April 3rd Judgment. The trial court denied
the motions and issued a writ of garnishment on July 15, 2020, which was
On August 5, 2020, Young filed an amended motion to vacate the April
3rd Judgment. On November 20, 2020, the trial court denied the amended
motion to vacate and declared that “[t]he Final Judgment entered on April
3rd, 2019 against Defendant is valid.” This appeal followed.
The record shows that the April 3, 2019 trial was reset on due process
grounds, owing to insufficient notice of trial1. Although the motion to vacate
was filed more than one year after the April 3rd Judgment, because it was
entered in violation of due process, the judgment is void and can be
challenged at any time. Tannenbaum v. Shea, 133 So. 3d 1056, 1061 (Fla.
4th DCA 2014) (quoting Shiver v. Wharton, 9 So. 3d 687, 690 (Fla. 4th DCA
2009)) (“[A] judgment is void if, in the proceedings leading up to the
judgment, there is ‘[a] violation of the due process guarantee of notice and
an opportunity to be heard.’”). Additionally, because there was no pleaded
agreement between the parties, arithmetical calculation, applicable rule of
law, or any other method to determine damages with exactness, the
damages were unliquidated, which required the trial court to provide Young
1 Although the trial was noticed for a time certain on April 3, 2019, it was held
much earlier without sufficient notice to appellant.
with proper notice and an opportunity to be heard. See Lincoln Mews Condo.
Ass’n, Inc. v. Harris, 276 So. 3d 344, 348 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019) (quoting Miami
Beverly LLC v. City of Miami, 225 So. 3d 989, 992 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017) (“The
failure to provide a defendant with notice and an opportunity to be heard
where the damages are unliquidated is a due process violation and
constitutes fundamental error requiring that such damages be set aside.”);
Sarasota Estate & Jewelry Buyers, Inc. v. Joseph Gad, Inc., 25 So. 3d 619,
621 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009) (quoting Bowman v. Kingsland Dev., Inc., 432 So.
2d 660, 662 (Fla. 5th DCA 1983)) (“Damages are liquidated when the proper
amount to be awarded can be determined with exactness from the cause of
action as pleaded, i.e., from a pleaded agreement between the parties, by
an arithmetical calculation or by application of definite rules of law.”).
Outcome: The April 3rd Judgement is void on due process grounds. Therefore,
we reverse the order denying the motion to vacate and remand the case with
instructions to vacate the April 3, 2019 Judgment.
Reversed and remanded with instructions