Peralta v. Heights Medical Center

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In Peralta v. Heights Medical Center, Inc., 485 U.S. 80 (1988), a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held that states cannot require proof of a meritorious defense to undo a judgment if the defendant was never properly served with the complaint.

Justice Byron White wrote the decision. He held:

The Texas court held that the default judgment must stand absent a showing of a meritorious defense to the action in which judgment was entered without proper notice to appellant, a judgment that had substantial adverse consequences to appellant. By reason of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, that holding is plainly infirm.