Quiet title judgment may be obtained by default after service by publication
When a defendant in a quiet title action is served by publication, their deadline to respond is 60 days after the Order for service, and they are in default if they do not then answer. Once 15 days to open that default has expired, then the plaintiff is entitled to seek a default judgment.
In the case of Patel v. Patel, 802 S.E.2d 871 (Ga. App. 2017) the Court of Appeals upheld the use of this procedure in a conventional quiet title action. The relevant holding is as follows:
“Here, the Patels obtained a court order on December 3, 2013 to serve the Defendant by publication, and service by publication was thereafter effected. As set forth in the published notice, the Defendant had 60 days from the date of the order in which to file an answer, yet failed to do so. The case thus automatically went into default on February 3, 2014. See OCGA §§ 9-11-4 (f) (1) (C); 9-11-55 (a). After the Defendant made no effort to open the default within 15 days, the Patels were entitled to default judgment as a matter of law.” Patel v. Patel, 802 S.E.2d 871 (Ga. Ct. App. 2017).