Legal Memorandum: Judgment by Default

Issue: Under Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, when may a party seek judgment by default?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Judgment by default; Judgment for affirmative relief
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 55, 55(a)
Date: 04/01/2014

Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 55, “[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party’s default.”  Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a).  If the party’s claim is for a sum certain or easily calculable, judgment by default may be entered by the clerk upon request with an affidavit showing the amount due.  In all other cases, judgment must be entered by the court.


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