Sometimes plaintiffs in New Mexico civil cases win their cases after proceeding to trial. A recent ruling shows that a win can also be had by default when the defendant is non-responsive to service of process.
The plaintiffs in the case were migrant workers, who filed a complaint with the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. Service of process was attempted on the defendant on behalf of the plaintiffs, but it was unsuccessful. The plaintiffs successfully moved the court thereafter to allow for alternative service of process. The summons was returned executed and the complaint was left with the defendant’s father at a residence owned by the defendant.
According to the court’s ruling, the defendant against whom default judgment was sought did not file an answer to the complaint by the due date, appear before the court or file any pleadings with the court. A recovery could not be had from a co-defendant, who the court explained had received a discharge in a bankruptcy case, making it essential for the plaintiffs to recover from the defaulting defendant if the law allowed for a default judgment.