Rule 55. Default.

(a) Entry. - When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or is otherwise subject to default judgment as provided by these rules or by statute and that fact is made to appear by affidavit, motion of attorney for the plaintiff, or otherwise, the clerk shall enter his default.

(b) Judgment. - Judgment by default may be entered as follows:

(1) By the Clerk. - When the plaintiff's claim against a defendant is for a sum certain or for a sum which can by computation be made certain, the clerk upon request of the plaintiff and upon affidavit of the amount due shall enter judgment for that amount and costs against the defendant, if the defendant has been defaulted for failure to appear and if the defendant is not an infant or incompetent person. A verified pleading may be used in lieu of an affidavit when the pleading contains information sufficient to determine or compute the sum certain.

In all cases wherein, pursuant to this rule, the clerk enters judgment by default upon a claim for debt which is secured by any pledge, mortgage, deed of trust or other contractual security in respect of which foreclosure may be had, or upon a claim to enforce a lien for unpaid taxes or assessments under G.S. 105-414, the clerk may likewise make all further orders required to consummate foreclosure in accordance with the procedure provided in Article 29A of Chapter 1 of the General Statutes, entitled "Judicial Sales."

(2) By the Judge. -

a. In all other cases the party entitled to a judgment by default shall apply to the judge therefor; but no judgment by default shall be entered against an infant or incompetent person unless represented in the action by a guardian ad litem or other such representative who has appeared therein. If the party against whom judgment by default is sought has appeared in the action, that party (or, if appearing by representative, the representative) shall be served with written notice of the application for judgment at least three days prior to the hearing on such application. If, in order to enable the judge to enter judgment or to carry it into effect, it is necessary to take an account or to determine the amount of damages or to establish the truth of any averment by evidence or to take an investigation of any other matter, the judge may conduct such hearings or order such references as the judge deems necessary and proper and shall accord a right of trial by jury to the parties when and as required by the Constitution or by any statute of North Carolina. If the plaintiff seeks to establish paternity under Article 3 of Chapter 49 of the General Statutes and the defendant fails to appear, the judge shall enter judgment by default.

b. A motion for judgment by default may be decided by the court without a hearing if:

1. The motion specifically provides that the court will decide the motion for judgment by default without a hearing if the party against whom judgment is sought fails to serve a written response, stating the grounds for opposing the motion, within 30 days of service of the motion; and

2. The party against whom judgment is sought fails to serve the response in accordance with this sub-subdivision.

(c) Service by publication. - When service of the summons has been made by published notice, no judgment shall be entered on default until the plaintiff shall have filed a bond, approved by the court, conditioned to abide such order as the court may make touching the restitution of any property collected or obtained by virtue of the judgment in case a defense is thereafter permitted and sustained; provided, that in actions involving the title to real estate or to foreclose mortgages thereon or in actions in which the State of North Carolina or a county or municipality thereof is the plaintiff such bond shall not be required.

(d) Setting aside default. - For good cause shown the court may set aside an entry of default, and, if a judgment by default has been entered, the judge may set it aside in accordance with Rule 60(b).

(e) Plaintiffs, counterclaimants, cross claimants. - The provisions of this rule apply whether the party entitled to the judgment by default is a plaintiff, a third-party plaintiff, or a party who has pleaded a crossclaim or counterclaim. In all cases a judgment by default is subject to the limitations of Rule 54(c).

(f) Judgment against the State of North Carolina. - No judgment by default shall be entered against the State of North Carolina or an officer in his official capacity or agency thereof unless the claimant establishes his claim or right to relief by evidence. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, cc. 542, 1101; 1977, c. 675; 1991, c. 278, s. 1; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 733, s. 3; 1999-187, s. 1.)