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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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My friend is in prison and has been sued in civil court

Customer Question

My friend is in prison and has been sued in civil court for wrongful death. He was not given the opportunity to appear in court to defend himself since he is in prison. He received a judgement against him for $505,000. Does he have basis for appeal since he didn't have the opportunity to prepare a defense? He is indigent. Also, how long does he have to appeal? This is in Indiana.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 5 months ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

It is possible to defend yourself from a civil suit while incarcerated, however, your friend is going to have to be much more diligent about attending to the matter if he plans on successfully defending the action.

I am going to assume that your friend had what is called a "default judgment" entered against him.

This is a judgment based on the fact that he did not appear in the action (did not file an answer or other responsive pleading).

The proper procedural mechanism for your friend to attack the judgment at this point is to make a "Motion to Vacate Default" under Indiana Rule of Civil Procedure 60 B.

While Indiana does not have a form for this motion, it is usually possible to search for a couple of samples (sometimes pleading papers are posted online), or you can visit your local (county) law library to see if you can find a template there.

Your friend may have access to resources where he is incarcerated.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
How long does he have to file the motion?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 5 months ago.

Maximum amount of time is 1 year, but if you read rule 60B (you can find the text of the rule here: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/trial_proc/#_Toc452452015), the motion must be filed "within a reasonable time" - so your friend will want to file this motion as promptly as possible.

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