Trick Question: You have 180 days to appeal if no one serves a notice of entry or a file-stamped copy of the judgment. You never received one of those documents. So you have 180 days to appeal, right?
Wrong. Or at least, you can’t be so sure. That’s what the defendants learned in Dannelley v. Wu (D4d3 Mar. 16, 2023 No. G062072) (nonpub. opn.).
They never received a notice of entry, so they appealed just under the 180-day deadline. And it was a big appeal too, over a $3.3 million default judgment.
But the plaintiffs had served a notice of entry. They mailed it to the addresses the defendants had on file. And they did so just a few days after entry of judgment, about five months before the defendants filed their appeal.
But we never got the notice of entry! said the defendants.
Nope. Receipt doesn’t matter. The 60-day clock runs upon deposit into the mail. "[T]he risk of failure of the mail is on the addressee[.]" (Meskell v. Culver City Unified School Dist. (1970) 12 Cal.App.3d 815, 824.)
Doesn’t this rule invite abuse? Would it allow a prevailing party to prepare a false notice of entry and proof of service, without any recourse? The court suggests that such allegations may be given ear, but not here, because the defendants did “not claim any irregularity,” such as “fail[ing] to mail the notice,” or that the addressees were incorrect.
The best practice is to assume the deadline to appeal is 60 days from entry of the judgment. You can never prove the negative proposition that a clerk or another party never deposited a notice into the mail. So the date of entry is the only date you can confirm with any certainty. Take that, add 60 days, and mark it on your calendar with a fat-tip Sharpie.
Thanks to Ben Shatz for blogging this case: http://bit.ly/407U376