Session November 6, 2019
from the Chancery Court for Williamson County No. 34103 James
G. Martin, III, Judge
filed a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 69.04 motion to
extend a 2008 default judgment entered against
Defendant's company and Defendant in his personal
capacity. Defendant filed a Rule 60.02(3) motion to set aside
the default judgment with respect to himself in his
individual capacity, asserting the judgment was void for lack
of service. The trial court determined 1) Defendant had been
served in the underlying matter, 2) that the judgment in the
underlying case was not void, and 3) alternatively, if the
judgment was invalid, "exceptional circumstances"
justified the court's refusal to set it aside. We find
that the 2008 default judgment was not void for lack of
service and affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Kathleen Robson Gordon, Chicago, Illinois, for the appellant,
O. Huff, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Warren
Brothers Sash & Door Company.
Dennis McGee, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Andy D. Bennett and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.
DENNIS MCGEE, JUDGE
Facts and Procedural History
appeal arises from a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 69.04
motion filed by Plaintiff Warren Brothers Sash & Door
Company ("Warren Brothers") in September 2017 to
extend a default judgment entered by the trial court against
Defendants Santoro Custom Builders, Inc. ("Santoro
Builders") and Stacy Santoro, individually ("Mr.
Santoro"; collectively, "Defendants") in
February 2008. The underlying facts are largely undisputed.
In November 2000, Santoro Builders, by and through its owner
and agent, Mr. Santoro, established a purchase account with
Warren Brothers. The parties executed a credit application
which was also executed by Mr. Santoro as personal guarantor.
Mr. Santoro guaranteed payment of the account, and Warren
Builders supplied building materials on credit. The materials
were used on eight job sites. Defendants did not pay the
balance, and Warren Brothers recorded eight separate liens in
September 2007. On November 5, 2007, Warren Brothers filed a
complaint to enforce its liens and collect the balance of the
account. Warren Brothers sought a judgment in the amount of
$72, 142.07, including the unpaid balance of $64, 470.94,
plus costs, attorneys' fees, and interest.
complaint, Warren Brothers asserted that service could be
made on Mr. Santoro at his residence in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Summons was issued on November 8, 2007. On December 4, a
deputy of the Maury County Sheriff's Office attempted
service on Mr. Santoro at Santoro Builders' offices on
Jim Warren Road in Spring Hill, Tennessee ("the Jim
Warren address"). The summons return stated, "read
to and left a copy at the business with Melissa
Jackson." On December 28, Mr. Santoro indicated by email
they were closing on homes and that "[t]he banks were
working with [them]" to "get through this tough
Brothers filed a motion for default judgment and default
judgment certificate in February 2008. The certificate states
that the motion was served on Mr. Santoro at his home address
in Brentwood and on Santoro Builders at the Jim Warren
address. Defendants neither answered nor made an appearance
in the matter. On February 19, 2008, the trial court entered
a default judgment in the amount of $72, 142.07, plus
interest at the rate of 10 percent per annum (as provided by
statute at that time), against Santoro Builders and Mr.
Santoro, jointly and severally. It also held that Warren
Brothers was entitled to enforcement of its materialmen's
liens against Santoro Builders' real property. In April
2008, the Williamson County Clerk and Master issued an
Execution on Mr. Santoro, which was served on Mr.
Santoro's attorney. The return on Execution stated that
the attorney held no money and that the attorney
"advised the Jim Warren address was best for
were involved in three other lawsuits filed in 2007. Melissa
Jackson ("Ms. Jackson") accepted service for
Defendants at the Jim Warren address in Williamson County
case #34096; in a second matter, an alias summons was issued
and served on Mr. Santoro's attorney because it was
believed Mr. Santoro had relocated to New York; in the third
action, Lisa Martin accepted service for Defendants at the
Jim Warren address.
Brothers filed its motion to extend the judgment in September
2017. The motion was served on Defendants at the Jim Warren
address, a Harrah Drive address in Spring Hill, and a
Pleasant Hill Road address in Franklin. In November 2017, Mr.
Santoro filed a motion to quash service and to vacate the
2008 default judgment pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil
Procedure 60.02(3). In his motion, Ms. Santoro asserted that
he was never personally served with the complaint in the 2007
action. In the affidavit attached to his complaint, Mr.
Santoro asserted that he had never resided at the Jim Warren
address and that Ms. Jackson "is not and never has been
an agent by ...