Notice Inviting Comment
Proposed Amendment to Rules 5, 54, and 55 of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure
The Supreme Judicial Court's
Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure
Invites Comments on Proposed Amendments to
Rules 5, 54 and 55 of the
Rules of Civil Procedure Massachusetts
The Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure (SAC) invites comments on proposed amendments to Rules 5, 54 and 55 of the Mass. R. Civ. P. The proposed amendments are the result of the Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Hermanson v. Szafarowicz, 457 Mass. 39 (2010). In Hermanson, the Court addressed the conflict between G.L. c. 231, § 13B, which limits a plaintiff's ability to demand a specific monetary amount in a complaint, and Rule 54(c), which states that a default judgment shall not exceed the amount requested in the demand for judgment. While ruling that the statute prevailed over the rule, the Court recognized that the rule allowed a defendant to make a reasoned decision, based on financial considerations, whether to defend the case or default. The Court asked the Standing Advisory Committee to consider whether the policy underlying the rule could be preserved by amending it.
The proposed amendments are intended to provide a way for a defendant to receive notice of the amount in controversy in connection with a plaintiff's request for default judgment. The proposed amendments to Rules 5, 54 and 55 require a party seeking a default judgment to provide advance notice of the nature and type of damages sought that are not a sum certain. The amendment to Rule 55(b)(2) requires that prior to having a hearing to assess damages, a party entitled to judgment by default must provide a written notice to all other parties, including a defendant who defaulted, of the date, time and location of the hearing and, along with the amount of any liquidated damages, the nature and type of all damages requested. The notice must be sent at least fourteen days prior to the hearing. Conforming amendments are made in Rules 5 and 55.
The proposed amendments to Rule 5, 54 and 55 and Reporter's Notes appear below.
The Committee solicits and welcomes comments from the bar prior to presenting its recommendation to the Rules Committee of the Supreme Judicial Court. Comments should be directed to Christine Burak, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston 02108 or to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before April 27, 2012.
- Proposed Amendments to Rules 5, 54, and 55 of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure and Reporter's Notes