Thursday, November 29, 2012

Webb v. Erickson case brief (reversal of garnishment)

Webb v. Erickson (1982)

Subject: Reverse of garnishment.

Facts: Webb obtained default judgment against Erickson’s in amount of $5000 plus interest and $1500 in attorney’s fees based on two promissory notes and a check for insufficient funds executed by Erickson. 
-Erickson earned commissions as a real estate agent. Webb caused several writs of garnishment to be served on houses sold by Erickson. 
-One of these parties was Bates. Process designated Bates as a garnishee-defendant in an action based on the Webb/Erickson judgment. 
-Bates stated that in November 1975 he had been released from a hospital after 7-week stay. Bates stated that he did not understand the service on him. Bates never answered the writ b/c he believed the whole thing was in escrow. 
- Feb. 27 1976, Webb obtained a default on Bates for the whole judgment on Erickson. No copy of the judgment was mailed to Bates. 
-Three years passed, and in March 1979, Webb’s attorney notified Bates. 
-August 1979, Webb served a writ of garnishment on Bates’ employer, garnishing his wages for the full amount. 

Procedural History:  Aug. 1979 Bates filed a motion to vacate and to stay the execution of judgment. The trial court granted it. Webb appealed and the court reversed. Granted review and vacated and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Issue: Was it proper for the court to reverse the garnishment on Bates?

Holding: Yes.  More liberal in allowing the belated garnishee to answer after default than in granting the privilege to an ordinary suitor defaulter, since he is a disinterested party in the proceedings, so far as any prospect of being benefitted is concerned, yet an interested third person so far as the danger of being injured is concerned. Excusable neglect by Bates. Reasons for Bates’ failure to understand and answer relate to excusable neglect.

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