The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago has affirmed a decision by the U.S. district judge who refused to reopen a default judgment. Kyler Moje, a hockey player on the Danville Dashers of the Federal Hockey League, lost an eye to high-sticking during a game against the Akwesasne Warriors. Moje sued Oakley Inc., which made the visor that Moje blamed for offering inadequate protection to his face and eyes. But Moje also sued the Federal Hockey League itself.
Rather than notifying its liability insurer, the Federal Hockey League hired a lawyer based in Syracuse, New York, John LoFaro. A month after the lawsuit started in the U.S. District Court, Oakley’s attorney called Dan Kirnan, the Federal Hockey League president, to ask why it did not file an answer to the complaint filed against it. Kirnan in turn contacted LoFaro, the League attorney. LoFaro told Kirnan that he had filed an answer to the complaint. LoFaro sent the league what he claimed to be a copy of that answer.
However, the court’s docket did not reflect any such court filing made on behalf of the defendants. Moje asked the court to enter a default judgment. LoFaro did not respond to the default motion nor the court entry of the default judgment. The court permitted Moje to claim damages. Four months after the lawsuit was begun, the U.S. District Court entered a final judgment of $800,000 for the damages suffered by Moje against the Federal Hockey League.