In a recent case, the Forth District Court of Appeal held that a complaint that fails to state an amount of damages or states that it will be an amount “to be proved” is void not just voidable. In Airs Aromatics v. CBL Data Recovery Technologies 2018 DJDAR 5045, the Court set aside a $3 million default judgment pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Section 580 (a). In the case, the defendant had originally answered, engaged in discovery, and participated in a settlement conference. Later the parties stipulated that the defendants answer would be withdrawn and a default entered.
The Court held that any judgment in excess of $25,000 would be void, because the only allegation in the complaint was that damages would be in an amount to be proved in excess of $25,000. In discussing other cases, the Court indicated the judgment would be void even if the default was entered as a result of discovery abuse sanctions. It is necessary that a complaint sets forth damage amounts in all cases other than personal injury actions or in regard to punitive damages.