881 F.2d 1069 (4th Cir. 1989), 87-2602, Eddins v. Medlar

Docket Nº:87-2602, 89-2910.
Citation:881 F.2d 1069
Party Name:Iverson T. EDDINS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Helen MEDLAR, Defendant-Appellant. Iverson T. EDDINS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Helen MEDLAR, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:July 21, 1989
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 1069

881 F.2d 1069 (4th Cir. 1989)

Iverson T. EDDINS, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Helen MEDLAR, Defendant-Appellant.

Iverson T. EDDINS, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Helen MEDLAR, Defendant-Appellant.

Nos. 87-2602, 89-2910.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

July 21, 1989

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA4 Rule 36 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

Argued Feb. 5, 1988.

13 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1382

Rehearing Denied Aug. 15, 1989.

W.D.Va.

AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART AND REMANDED.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, at Charlottesville. James H. Michael, Jr., United States District Judge. (CA-85-74).

Ronald Stephen Evans, Larry A. Pochucha (Bremner, Baber & Janus on brief) for appellant.

Calvin Waverly Parker for appellee.

Before MURNAGHAN and SPROUSE, Circuit Judges, and BUTZNER, Senior Circuit Judge.

PER CURIAM:

In this diversity action, Iverson Eddins sued his aunt, Helen Medlar, for slander after she made false statements that Eddins had sexually assaulted his incompetent sister, Theresa Eddins. After Medlar had discharged two attorneys and consistently refused to honor discovery orders, the district court granted Iverson Eddins' third motion for default on the issue of liability. The default judgment rendered Medlar liable for slandering Eddins "falsely, maliciously, and with reckless disregard for the truth," as alleged in the complaint.

Medlar was notified of the jury trial to be held on the question of damages, but also failed to appear for the damages trial. The complaint had demanded $25,000 compensatory damages and $500,000 punitive damages. The jury awarded Eddins $50,000 compensatory damages and $100,000 punitive damages.

Medlar contends on appeal that she was not given notice of various proceedings, that the default judgment was improperly entered, that the court erroneously charged the jury, that the verdict was excessive, and that the verdict impermissibly exceeded the amount demanded in the complaint. We affirm all of the court's actions except the entry of judgment for $50,000 compensatory damages, which we find to be in violation of Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(c)'s limit on damages for default judgments. The...

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