If the defendant fails to file an answer by the date stated in Rule 502.5, the judge must ensure that service was proper, and may hold a hearing for this purpose. If it is determined that service was proper, the judge must render a default judgment in the following manners.
Claim Based on Written Document
If the claim is based on a written document signed by the defendant, and a copy of the document has been filed with the court and served on the defendant, along with a sworn statement from the plaintiff that this is a true and accurate copy of the document and the relief sought is owed, and all payments, offsets or credits due to the defendant have been accounted for, the judge must render judgment for the plaintiff in the requested amount, without any necessity for a hearing. The plaintiff’s attorney may also submit affidavits supporting an award of attorney fees to which the plaintiff is entitled, if any.
Except as provided in "Claim Based on Written Document", a plaintiff who seeks a default judgment against a defendant must request a hearing, orally or in writing. The plaintiff must appear at the hearing and provide evidence of its damages. If the plaintiff proves its damages, the judge must render judgment for the plaintiff in the amount proven. If the plaintiff is unable to prove its damages, the judge must render judgment in favor of the defendant. With the permission of the court, a party may appear at a hearing by means of telephone or an electronic communication system.
If a defendant files an answer or otherwise appears in a case before a default judgment is signed by the judge, the judge must not enter a default judgment and the case must be set for trial as described in Rule 503.3.
If a defendant who has answered fails to appear for trial, the court may proceed to hear evidence on liability and damages and render judgment accordingly.
The plaintiff requesting a default judgment must provide to the clerk in writing the last known mailing address of the defendant at or before the time the judgment is signed. When a default judgment is signed, the clerk must immediately mail written notice of the judgment to the defendant at the address provided by the plaintiff, and note the fact of such mailing on the docket. The notice must state the number and style of the case, the court in which the case is pending, the names of the parties in whose favor and against whom the judgment was rendered, and the date the judgment was signed. Failure to comply with the provisions of this rule does not affect the finality of the judgment.
A party may file a sworn motion for summary disposition of all or part of a claim or defense without a trial. The motion must set out all supporting facts. All documents on which the motion relies must be attached. The motion must be granted if it shows that:
There are no genuinely disputed facts that would prevent a judgment in favor of the party;
There is no evidence of one or more essential elements of a defense which the defendant must prove to defeat the plaintiff’s claim; or
There is no evidence of one or more essential elements of the plaintiff’s claim.
The party opposing the motion may file a sworn written response to the motion.
The court must not consider a motion for summary disposition until it has been on file for at least 14 days. By agreement of the parties, the court may decide the motion and response without a hearing.
The court may enter judgment as to the entire case or may specify the facts that are established and direct such further proceedings in the case as are just.
After the defendant answers, the case will be set on a pretrial docket or a trial docket at the discretion of the judge. The court must send a notice of the date, time, and place of this setting to all parties at their address of record no less than 45 days before the setting date, unless the judge determines that an earlier setting is required in the interest of justice. Reasonable notice of all subsequent settings must be sent to all parties at their addresses of record.
A party may file a sworn motion requesting that the trial be postponed. The motion must state why a postponement is necessary. The judge, for good cause, may postpone any suit for a reasonable time.
The policy of this state is to encourage the peaceable resolution of disputes through alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, and the early settlement of pending litigation through voluntary settlement procedures. For that purpose, the judge may order any case to mediation or another appropriate and generally accepted alternative dispute resolution process.
The court must not order mediation or any other alternative dispute resolution process in an eviction case if it would delay trial.
On the day of the trial setting, the judge must call all of the cases set for trial that day.
If Plaintiff Fails to Appear
If the plaintiff fails to appear when the case is called for trial, the judge may postpone or dismiss the suit.
If Defendant Fails to Appear
If the defendant fails to appear when the case is called for trial, the judge may postpone the case, or may proceed to take evidence. If the plaintiff proves its case, judgment must be awarded for the relief proven. If the plaintiff fails to prove its case, judgment must be rendered against the plaintiff.