By Maria Fischer and Jeffrey Davis
FAQ: What is an Inquest Hearing?
Have you started a case but never got an answer from the other side? In other words the other side defaulted? You then probably filed a motion for a default judgment and the Judge gave you a favorable decision but also ordered an Inquest Hearing on the damages.
What does “inquest hearing” mean?
An inquest is a hearing to decide the amount of money due on your claim. At an inquest, only the plaintiff is present.
What happens at an inquest?
An inquest is like a mini-trial except the Defendant is not present. At an inquest, the Plaintiff must prove the alleged damages made in the Complaint to the satisfaction of the judge. That means you’ll need to provide exhibits in support of your damages (discussed below) and witnesses need to be present to testify regarding the alleged damages.
What should a plaintiff bring to an inquest?
The plaintiff needs to bring evidence in support of his/her/its damages. Evidence may include witnesses, written records (emails, text messages, letters), proof of payments, contracts (including any written modifications to the applicable contracts), documents proving that you have the right to be bringing the lawsuit, proof of debts incurred, proof of remedial damages, etc.
When can you request an inquest?
An inquest cannot be held until the defendant’s time to answer has expired.
Can a defendant do anything after the inquest hearing?
Remember: testimony in an inquest is being submitted to the court without the other side being able to object to its truth. If a defendant is able to show after a judgment is entered that the default was beyond his or her control and that there is a good defense to the action, the defendant may submit a motion or an order to show cause. This may lead to the court vacating the judgment, restoring the case to the calendar, and then allowing a trial on the merits.
Consultation with an attorney is always recommended.