Pulte Homes Corp. v. Williams Mechanical, Inc.

Trial court erred in allowing suspended (and eventually dissolved) corporation relief from default judgment, since its agent for service of process was served, thus giving it actual knowledge of the suit.  Declining to decide whether a corporation that was first suspended (either for non-payment of taxes or failure to file its annual statement with the Secretary of State) and then dissolved remains suspended or due to dissolution may defend itself in litigation, this decision holds that the trial court in any event erred in allowing the corporation relief from the default judgment entered against it.  It moved for relief more than 6 months after its default was taken, so could not invoke CCP 473 to vacate the default—or the judgment which had to be entered upon the default.  The corporation could not obtain relief under CCP 473.5 because its agent for service of process was served, thus giving it actual knowledge of the suit.  And, the corporation was not entitled to equitable relief from judgment because there was no extrinsic mistake or fraud.  The corporation’s own agent for service of process was served, and if he failed to inform the dissolved corporation, the corporation cannot escape blame based on its agent’s inaction.  Also, the dissolved corporation’s insurer, the party with the real stake in this dispute, did not act promptly upon finally receiving notice of the suit and the judgment against its insured.

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 2 (Ramirez, P.J.); August 9, 2016 (partial publication); 2016 WL 4199093

 

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