• July 20, 2011

On December 12, 2008, Soubin Thao was allegedly injured in “an altercation” with security at Karma Nightclub (“where the grown and sexy play”).  Thao brought suit against Karma for its injuries but Karma and its insurer appear to have decided to try to avoid liability on procedural/jurisdictional grounds rather than defending the case on the merits.

That is, resting on supposed improper service, Karma appears to have allowed Thao to get a default judgment against the night club for over $100,000.  The gambit did not pay off.  

In an unpublished decision written by Judge Louis Dovre Bjorkman of the Minnesota Court of Appeals (for a panel: Halbrooks, Wright, Bjorkman), the court held that the trial court (Hennepin County District Court Judge Tanya Bransford) did not abuse her discretion in refusing to vacate the default judgment against Karma.  Karma had suggested that it appears to have received and lost the summons and complaint in “an isolated incident.”  The Court of Appeals (unsurprisingly) held that:

[T]here is no isolated-incident or lack-of-intent exception to the reasonable-excuse analysis, and the disappearance of the documents is solely attributable to Karma; losing papers is not excusable neglect.
It is not clear whether Karma’s defense of this case really involved simple negligence or a litigation strategy.  Either way, it failed.  The opinion is also informative as to how service may be effected through the Secretary of State and the sufficiency of such service when the entity has changed address (but failed to notify the Secretary of State).

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