The Dallas Court of Appeals has held that the lack of a reporter’s record from a trial on unliquidated damages requires reversal of the judgment. In this case, the defendant defaulted and a trial was held on unliquidated damages. No court reporter was present. The trial court entered judgment for plaintiff awarding $1.3 million in damages, The defendant appealed and challenged entry of the default judgment as well as the award of damages.
The court of appeals reiterated the rule that if an appellant "through no fault of his own is unable to obtain a proper record of the evidence introduced, a new trial may be required . . . ." Here, it was undisputed that the defendant did not receive notice or appear at the trial on unliquidated damages. Consequently, the appellate court was unable to review the damage award. The court acknowledged the general rule that in the absence of a reporter’s record, a court presumes the evidence supports the judgment, but refused to apply it in the default judgment situation. Thus, the court determined that a new trial on damages was required and remanded the case to the trial court. The court’s opinion in Copeland v. Cooper can be found at this link.