Ludka v. Memory Magnetics International – Case Brief Summary (California)

In Ludka v. Memory Magnetics International (1972) 25 Cal. App. 3d 316, the defendant inexplicably waited three months between the time of the entry of a default and the bringing of a motion to set aside that default. (Ludka v. Memory Magnetics International, supra, 25 Cal. App. 3d at p. 321.)

The appellate court concluded that a trial court acted well within its discretion in denying a motion to set aside a default when it concluded the defendant failed to exercise diligence in bringing the motion to set aside the default. (Id. at pp. 321-322.)

The court explained, "Diligence is an essential ingredient of a motion for relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473. 'Courts do not relieve litigants from the effects of mere carelessness. Defendant has not cited, nor has independent research disclosed, any case in which a court has set aside a default where, in making application therefor, there has been an unexplained delay of anything approaching three months after full knowledge of the entry of the default.' " (Ibid.)

In Ludka, the plaintiff sought specific amounts of money in the prayer for each of his two first causes of action. (Ludka v. Memory Magnetics International, supra, 25 Cal. App. 3d at p. 322.)

The trial court affirmed the default awards of those amounts. (Id. at pp. 322, 324.)

In the third cause of action, however, plaintiff alleged "'3. On THE THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION, for damages according to proof; 4. For costs of suit incurred herein; and for such other and further relief as the court deems just.'" (Id. at p. 322.)

The court concluded that because there were no allegations as to the amount of monetary damages sought in the prayer or body of the complaint on this cause of action, the trial court could not award any damages on this cause of action in a default judgment. (Id. at p. 323.)