Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Civil Rules 5, 54 and 55 Amended Effective January 1

In response to the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Hermanson v. Szafarowicz, 457 Mass. 39 (2010), three civil rules have been amended effective January 1, 2013: Rule 5(a), Rule 54(c), and Rule 55(b)(2). The Reporter's Notes to Rule 55 provide clarification and say in part:

"The Hermanson case dealt with 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 provides that a default judgment may not exceed the amount requested in the demand for judgment."

"[After much deliberation,] the Standing Advisory Committee recommended to the Court, and the Court adopted, an approach that requires the party seeking a default judgment to provide advance notice to the defendant of the nature and type of damages sought that are not a sum certain. This approach required amendments to three rules: Rules 5(a), 54(c), and 55(b)(2)."