Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 94-2-13573-2. Date filed: 03/12/96. Judge signing: Hon. Dale Ramerman.
PER CURIAM. The law firm of Sinsheimer & Meltzer, Incorporated (Sinsheimer), argues the trial court erred when it granted Christopher Demopolis's motion to vacate a default judgment against him. We hold that the court properly concluded that a previous order confirming the validity of the default judgment was not binding and that Demopolis's filing of a document 19 days after he was served, asking the court to continue the proceedings, entitled him to notice of the motion for default. We, therefore, affirm.
Sinsheimer filed a summons and complaint against Christopher Demopolis on June 2, 1994, to collect fees for its legal services. Demopolis was served with the summons and complaint on June 24, 1994. *fn1 Nineteen days later, on July 13, 1994, Demopolis filed a "Special Appearance To Contest Sufficiency Of Service And Motion To Continue All Proceedings And Case Schedule For 6 Months Due To Illness Of Defendant." He stated he was appearing specially to contest the sufficiency of service, but asked the court to delay the case for 6 months because of ill health. Although the special appearance was filed on July 13, it was not immediately placed in the court's file.
On July 15, there being no indication in the court's file that Demopolis had appeared, Court Commissioner Jack Richey entered a default judgment against him. Sinsheimer received its copy of Demopolis's special appearance later that same day.
On July 18, Demopolis filed a motion to continue the case and stay the proceedings. In his memorandum in support of his motion, he argued that his special appearance precluded the default judgment.
On August 15, 1995, Acting Presiding Judge Joseph Wesley entered an order which gave Demopolis until August 30, 1994, to move to vacate the default judgment under CR 60. If the motion was not filed, served, and noted before that date, his motion for a stay was denied.
On August 29, 1994, Demopolis filed a "Motion to Vacate Premature
Default Judgement [sic] As Void While At All Times Preserving Special
Appearance To Contest Sufficiency Of Service And Certificate In Support." In it he claimed "the 'alleged' service was on June 24, 1994[,]" he filed a special appearance on July 13, and mailed a copy of his special appearance to attorney David Olwell on July 11, 1994. *fn2 He argued that because he had filed his special appearance on July 13, one day before the 20-day period expired, Olwell was "divested . . . from authority to take default." Demopolis noted the motion for February 8, 1995.
On September 23, Sinsheimer filed a motion to confirm the validity of its default judgment. The motion was noted for October 3, 1994.
Demopolis filed a declaration against Sinsheimer's motion to confirm the default judgment. He argued that Judge Wesley had denied his motion for a continuance only if he failed to file, serve, and note his motion to vacate the default judgment, but because he did all those things, the proceedings were continued for 6 months. He also claimed he had not received adequate notice of the hearing on Sinsheimer's motion, because the hearing was set for October 3, but the notice was not mailed to Demopolis until September 23, which he claimed did not satisfy the local rules.
Demopolis did not appear for the hearing to confirm the validity of the default judgment on October 3, 1994. Judge Liem Tuai granted
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the validity of Default Judgment previously entered in this matter on July 14, 1994 be and the same is hereby confirmed, there being no factual allegation by the defendant showing a meritorious defense on behalf of defendant to the plaintiff's case. Demopolis filed a motion for reconsideration, but the motion was denied.
On February 8, 1995, Demopolis's motion to vacate was stricken because it was noted in the wrong department. Five months later, Demopolis noted a motion to dismiss before Presiding Judge Ramerman. Judge Ramerman scheduled a hearing on the motion for December 26, 1995. On the 26th, Judge Ramerman indicated he was inclined to grant Demopolis's motion to vacate the default judgment and asked Sinsheimer to submit authority that the ...