BEAUMONT – The Ninth Court of Appeals has axed a default judgment worth more than half-a-million dollars awarded to area blogger Philip Klein and his company.
Last April, Klein Investigations filed a breach of contract suit against Kallop Enterprises and several of its subsidiaries, seeking several hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for services allegedly rendered.
In July, Klein and his attorney, John Morgan, secured a default judgment against the defendants worth more than $569,000, court records show.
Judge Justin Sanderson, who has since withdrawn from the case, awarded the judgment.
In turn, the defendants unsuccessfully moved for a new trial, arguing that both the process service and returns of service were fatally defective, court records show.
On Dec. 13, the Ninth Court found Sanderson erred.
Klein had alleged that each defendant was served via certified mail last May.
When Klein filed his motion for default judgment, attached was a document titled “USPS Tracking Results,” which states an item was “Delivered, Front Desk/Reception” and “Your item was delivered to the front desk or reception area at 10:38 am on May 11, 2017 in HOUSTON, TX 77040.”
However, the document does not include the delivery address or the name of any addressee.
“The record does not include copies of any ‘green cards’ (USPS Form 3811) establishing the date of delivery of the certified mail and there is no name of the person(s) accepting the delivery,” the Ninth Court’s opinion states. “Therefore, the record does not show strict compliance with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure for service of process and return of service.
“Based on the record before us, we conclude that the trial court erred in rendering a default judgment.”
The appellants in the case are: Offshore Express, Inc.; Offshore
Specialty Fabricators, LLC; Offshore International Group; Offshore Shipbuilding, Inc.; Avid, LLC; Avid Air, LLC; Fairways, Inc.; Fairways Exploration and Production, LLC; Pisco Porton, LLC; and FS Air Service, LLC.
Jeffrey Dorrell, a Hanszen and Laporte attorney, represents them.
Klein is represented by Beaumont attorney John Morgan.
Judge Sanderson presides over the 60th District Court.
Appeals case No. 09-17-00333-CV
Jefferson County District Court cause No. B-199953-A