Fun with 5015

Torres v Rely On Us, Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 06587 [2d Dept. 2018]

In addition, even after expiration of the one-year limitations period set forth in CPLR 5015, "a court may vacate its own judgment for sufficient reason and in the interests of substantial justice" (Woodson v Mendon Leasing Corp., 100 NY2d 62, 68; see U.S. Bank N.A. v Losner, 145 AD3d 935Yung Chong Ho v Uppal, 130 AD3d at 812; Hudson City Sav. Bank v Cohen, 120 AD3d 1304Wells Fargo Bank v Hodge, 92 AD3d 775).

Here, contrary to the plaintiffs' contention, that branch of ROU's motion which was pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) was not untimely, since there is no evidence that the plaintiffs ever served ROU with written notice of entry of the order dated November 19, 2014 (see Capurso v Capurso, 134 AD3d 974, 975; Garcia v Pepe, 42 AD3d 427, 430). Accordingly, the one-year time period never commenced (see CPLR 5015[a][1]).

Nevertheless, we agree with the Supreme Court's determination to deny those branches of ROU's motion which were to vacate the order dated November 19, 2014, and to extend the time to serve an answer. While the court has the discretion to accept law office failure as a reasonable excuse (see CPLR 2005; Shin v ITCI, Inc., 115 AD3d 736, 737), "[a] party attributing his or her default to a former attorney must provide a detailed and credible explanation of the default. Conclusory and unsubstantiated allegations of law office failure are not sufficient" (U.S. Bank N.A. v Barr, 139 AD3d 937, 937-938 [citation and internal quotation marks omitted]; see LaSalle Bank, N.A. v LoRusso, 155 AD3d 706, 707; Morris v Metropolitan Transp. Auth., 191 AD2d 682). "[M]ere neglect is not a reasonable excuse" (Ki Tae Kim v Bishop, 156 AD3d 776, 777 [internal quotation marks omitted]).

Contrary to ROU's contention, it failed to provide a detailed and credible explanation of the default, and no other evidence was submitted to corroborate the allegation of law office failure (see OneWest Bank, FSB v Singer, 153 AD3d 714, 716). Accordingly, ROU's "bare allegations of incompetence on the part of prior counsel" (Huggins v Parkset Supply, Ltd., 24 AD3d 610, 611 [internal quotation marks omitted]) were insufficient to establish an excusable default under CPLR 5015(a)(1) (see LaSalle Bank, N.A. v LoRusso, 155 AD3d 706LaSalle Bank N.A. v Calle, 153 AD3d 801Carillon Nursing & Rehabilitation Ctr., LLP v Fox, 118 AD3d 933, 934; Beale v Yepes, 309 AD2d 886).

Since ROU failed to establish a reasonable excuse for its default in appearing or answering the complaint, it is unnecessary to consider whether it established the existence of a potentially meritorious defense (see CPLR 5015[a][1]; LaSalle Bank N.A. v Calle, 153 AD3d at 803).

Furthermore, the interests of substantial justice did not warrant vacating ROU's default in the exercise of the Supreme Court's inherent power (see Yung Chong Ho v Uppal, 130 AD3d at 813).

The bold is mine.


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