Can I appeal a default judgment if my business was not properly served?

You own a business, and you get sued. But you didn’t know you were being sued because you never saw any papers! And since you didn’t know about the case, you didn’t show up in court. And when you weren’t in court, the judge entered a default judgment against you. Now what do you do?

“Can I appeal a default judgment if my business was not properly served?"

Yes! If you can prove four things, you can get the default judgment reversed so that the case can be heard on the merits and maybe you won’t have a judgment against you. According to a case called Alexander v. Lynda’s Boutique, 134 S.W.3d 845, 848 (Tex. 2004), an appellant must establish four things to prevail on a restricted appeal: “(1) it filed notice of the restricted appeal within six months after the judgment was signed; (2) it was a party to the underlying lawsuit; (3) it did not participate in the hearing that resulted in the judgment complained of and did not timely file any postjudgment motions or requests for findings of fact and conclusions of law; and (4) error is apparent on the face of the record.” If you can prove all four things, you can successfully appeal the default judgment and get a chance at a fair trial.

The Easy Part

The first three parts of the appeal should be fairly easy to prove using the court records. You must have appealed the judgment within 6 months of the judgment being signed, you must have been named in the lawsuit you failed to appear for in court, and you must not have participated in the hearing or filed various paperwork around the time of the court date. The most difficult test is that there is “error apparent on the face of the record.”

The Hard Part

“Error apparent on the face of the record” is what is known as “prima facie” evidence. That is fancy legal talk for obvious errors. The court will only grant your appeal if the record shows that you clearly were not served properly. In a recent case from the 116th Judicial District Court in Dallas, a defendant successfully appealed a default judgment. They proved the first three parts of the test, and then they showed that there was obvious error because the letter sent to them to serve them with the lawsuit was returned to the Texas Secretary of State’s office. The letter was marked, “no such number.”

Have you been hit with a default judgment?

If you have had a default judgment handed down against your business, don’t wait to contact the Guest and Gray Law Firm business law attorney team. Our offices are conveniently located in Forney, Kaufman, and Rockwall. We can help you plan a way to fight back against default judgments and make sure that the legal system treats you fairly. We are the largest and best-reviewed firm in the area. Rely on your local experts and call us today for a confidential consultation.