Thursday, July 16, 2015

Vacating a default as a matter of law.

Practice point:  The Appellate Division reversed the denial of the motion to vacate, finding that,  contrary to the Supreme Court's determination, defendant demonstrated a reasonable excuse for its failure to appear at the originally scheduled compliance conference which occurred when a stay of the action was in effect, and that it never received actual notice of the subsequent adjourned compliance conference.

In the absence of such actual notice of the conference date, defendant's failure to appear could not qualify as a failure to perform a legal duty, which is the very definition of a default. The Appellate Division determined that vacatur of the default was required as a matter of law and due process, and that, therefore no showing of a potentially meritorious defense was required.

Student note:  As a general rule, a defendant seeking to vacate a default in appearing at a compliance conference is required to demonstrate both a reasonable excuse for the default and a potentially meritorious defense, pursuant to CPLR 5015[a][1].

Case:   Foley Inc. v. Metropolis Superstructures, Inc., NY Slip Op 05910 (2d Dept. 2015

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Summary judgment based on res ipsa.