S. Bank to satisfy Cash Store’s indebtedness, now equal to $27,739
On , Ms. Johnson filed a summons and complaint against Cash Store alleging unconscionability and Consumer Protection Act (CPA) violations in the making and enforcing of the loan terms, including usurious interest rates against public policy and unfair business practices in the form of harassment. Ms. Fish sent the summons and complaint back to Ms. Johnson’s counsel in separate envelopes on November 15. In each envelope she attached a note stating that Ms. Johnson’s debts were paid off in .
Johnson filed a notice of intent to file for default judgment on . This notice was mailed to the North Pines Road Cash Store and stated that the hearing on the motion for default judgment would be held on at 10 a.m. in the ex parte courtroom. The hearing was held and an order of default was entered on December 27. Cash Store did not appear.
Ms. Johnson’s motion to set a hearing for damages was not sent to Cash Store. 1 At the hearing on damages held ages for the total amount paid to Cash Store (3 x $1,740 = $5,220), plus $42,000 for emotional distress (twice the value of the foreclosure costs), and attorney fees and costs. The trial court found the treble damages and attorney fees reasonable and awarded them, adjusted by a slightly lower rate. Noting that Ms. Johnson’s depression was ongoing, the court limited her recovery for emotional distress to $15,000. The http://www.cashcentralpaydayloans.com/payday-loans-mn/ total judgment was $26,701.
On , Ms. Johnson served a writ of garnishment on U. Three weeks later, Cash Store filed a motion to vacate the default judgment. In the memorandum supporting the motion, Cash Store argued that its failure to respond was a mistake or excusable neglect due to its manager’s inattention. It also asserted that its short-term loan operation complies with Washington law and is approved by the State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). Cash Store attached affidavits from Ms. Fish and from Trevor Ahlberg, Cottonwood’s chief executive officer (CEO). Mr. Ahlberg stated that the Washington Cash Stores had been audited in by the DFI, which found no significant violations of state law. He also asserted that Cash Store had no policy to harass its clients or to threaten criminal sanctions.
That same day, a process server personally served the summons and complaint on Laura Fish, manager of the North Pines Road Cash Store in Spokane
Finding that Cash Store failed to establish a prima facie defense to the underlying action and further finding that its failure to appear was not due to excusable neglect or a mistake, the trial court denied Cash Store’s motion to vacate the default judgment. The court also amended the order of judgment to add additional attorney fees for Ms. Johnson. Cash Store now appeals the order denying its motion to vacate judgment and the award of damages.
Any discussion of default judgments begins with the proposition that they are not favored in the law. Griggs v. Averbeck Realty, Inc., 92 Wash.2d 576, 581, 599 P.2d 1289 (1979). The overriding policy is that controversies should be determined on their merits, not by default. Id. (quoting Dlouhy v. Dlouhy, 55 Wash.2d 718, 721, 349 P.2d 1073 (1960)). On the other hand, the need for a responsive and responsible legal system mandates that parties comply with a judicial summons. Id.; Norton v. Brown, 99 Wash.App. 118, 123, 992 P.2d 1019 (1999), 3 P.3d 207 (Wash.App.2000). In determining whether a default judgment should be vacated, the court applies equitable principles to ensure that substantial rights are preserved and justice is done. Griggs, 92 Wash.2d at 581-82, 599 P.2d 1289; Norton, 99 Wash.App. at 123, 992 P.2d 1019. Justice is not done if hurried defaults are allowed, but neither is it done if continuing delays are permitted. Griggs, 92 Wash.2d at 582, 599 P.2d 1289.