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Relief from Default Judgment

How to Reopen a Case the Plaintiff Won Because You Did Not Respond

When a defendant is served with a Summons and Complaint, the defendant has a limited amount of time (typically 30 days) in which to respond to the lawsuit. If a defendant fails to respond, the plaintiff may ask the court to enter a "default judgment" against the defendant.

In a breach of contract/collection case, the amount of the judgment is usually the amount requested by the plaintiff in the complaint. In a personal injury or property damage case, the amount awarded is limited to the amount of damages established by the evidence the plaintiff presents to the Court.

California Code of Civil Procedure sections 473(b), 473(c), 473(d) and 473.5 specify the most common grounds upon which you can base a motion for relief of default or default judgment.


There is no Judicial Council form for this procedure. Instead, the relevant document must be typed on 28-line pleading paper. Customizable templates may be downloaded from these links:

Click below to download this guide, with step-by-step instructions and sample forms:

 Motion for Relief from Default Judgment Step by Step