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Garcia v. Puerto Vallarta Sports Bar, LLC.

2022 COA 17. No. 20CA1178. Clerical Errors—Default Judgment—Relief from Judgment.

February 10, 2022

Plaintiff sued Puerto Vallarta Sports Bar, LLC (PVSB) for injuries he allegedly sustained while in the parking lot of the bar owned by PVSB. The complaint, the district court civil summons, and the district court civil case cover sheet identified the defendant as “Puerta Vallarta Sports Bar, LLC, a Colorado Limited Liability Company doing business as Puerto Vallarta Sports Bar.” (Emphasis added.) Service of process was made by leaving the documents with the manager on duty while she was at the bar. PVSB never responded to the complaint. Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment under CRCP 55(b), which the court granted, and judgment was entered with PVSB’s name as spelled in the caption. Plaintiff subsequently attempted to collect on the judgment and filed a CRCP Rule 69(e)(1) notice of hearing, along with an affidavit of service showing that PVSB’s owner/operator, Montes, had been served with a subpoena to attend and to produce documents at the hearing, and with blank Rule 69 interrogatories. Montes appeared at the hearing without any of the documents and asked for more time to respond to the Rule 69 documents. He did not contest that he had been served with the complaint and didn’t challenge service of process. The court gave him a month to respond.

Montes then hired an attorney who challenged the documentation because it was served on “Puerta” Vallarta Sports Bar, LLC—an entity that did not exist. Plaintiff’s attorney filed a motion to amend the case caption, arguing that the spelling of the name was a clerical error subject to amendment at any time. The court granted the motion. PVSB then filed a motion to set aside the default, arguing that it wasn’t properly served with process and wasn’t a formal party to the action until after the caption had been amended. The court denied the motion, reasoning that PVSB waived its right to challenge service by not raising the issue when it first challenged enforceability of the judgment.

On appeal, PVSB argued that the district court erred by amending the pleadings and default judgment. Rule 60(a) allows courts to correct clerical mistakes arising from oversight or omission made by parties at any time. Here, the district court did not abuse its discretion by allowing correction of PVSB’s name because the amendment merely corrected a misnomer and did not add a new party to the case.

PVSB also argued that the default judgment was void for lack of valid service of process. However, PVSB had actual notice of the action against it and did not raise the service issue until after the default judgment was entered, and it failed to raise the issue in its first challenge to the default judgment. Accordingly, PVSB waived any challenge to personal jurisdiction based on improper service, and the district court did not err.

The orders were affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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