By Razvan Ungureanu on January 27, 2015
Assume the following facts: you file a complaint, serve the defendant, the defendant refuses to answer, you present competent evidence to prove your damages on the claims alleged in the complaint, and you obtain a default judgment. Should the defendant be able to overturn the default judgment on appeal? Many legal practitioners would answer no, but a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit recently held otherwise. So long as a complaint contains insufficient factual allegations to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a defendant against whom a default judgment was entered can overturn that default judgment for the first time on appeal. That is so even if the plaintiff introduces sufficient evidence at an evidentiary hearing to cure any insufficient-factual-allegation deficiencies the complaint may contain.