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Unlawful detainer and reclassification question. Tenant defaulted and evicted. Amount in daily damages now exceeds $10,000.

Arcadia, CA |

I obtained a clerk's default judgment for possession against the tenant and successfully evicted the tenant. I am now preparing a 585 default package for daily damages but the total amount requested in the judgment exceeds $10,000. I did not anticipate the requested amount to exceed $10,000 when I filed the case. What is the procedure to reclassify the case to limited $10,000-$25,000 when the defendant defaulted?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Since you obtained a default judgment, you cannot reclassify the case to unlimited jurisdiction without starting over. A defaulting defendant in limited jurisdiction (up to $10,000.00) is consenting to judgment up to that amount; not a greater amount.

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Asker

Posted

So if I read your answer correctly, I can only obtain a judgment for $10,000.00 including costs and damages? Or is the $10,000.00 limited to damages only -- separate of costs --?

Brad S Kane

Brad S Kane

Posted

The amount of costs awarded is not included in determining the amount in controversy CCP 85(a).

Asker

Posted

You're very helpful. Thank you, Mr. Kane!

Posted

You cannot reclassify to unlimited jurisdiction because the default judgment is limited to $10,000. That amount, however, does not include costs.

The costs would be filing fees, fees for service of process, etc. They could also include attorney fees if the rental agreement provides for them. However, an award of attorney fees may be made only on a noticed motion or on entry of a default judgment by court.

A plaintiff who recovers possession may also recover eviction expenses by filing a supplemental cost memorandum.

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Posted

Reclassification only applies when a party desires to change a limited jurisdiction case to an unlimited jurisdiction case. If you are seeking a money judgment over $10,000 but less than $25,000, the unlawful detainer action is still a limited jurisdiction action and does not require reclassification.

Due process requires that the maximum amount you can recover in a default judgment in a limited jurisdiction case is whatever is set forth in the prayer for damages, but in no event, more than $25,000.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

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