Vacatur

CVM Partners 1, LLC v Adams, 173 AD3d 971 [2d Dept. 2019]

No appeal lies from an order or judgment granted upon the default of the appealing party (see CPLR 5511; HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v Gervais, 168 AD3d 692, 693 [2019]; HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v Simms, 163 AD3d 930, 932 [2018]; Adotey v British Airways, PLC, 145 AD3d 748, 749 [2016]). Although “an appeal from such a judgment brings up for review those matters which were the subject of contest before the Supreme Court” (Geffner v Mercy Med. Ctr., 167 AD3d 571, 572 [2018] [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Bottini v Bottini, 164 AD3d 556, 558 [2018]; Alam v Alam, 123 AD3d 1066, 1067 [2014]), the defendant here defaulted at every stage of the proceedings, beginning with his failure to appear or answer the complaint, continuing with his failure to appear on the return dates of his two motions, brought on by orders to show cause, one of which sought to vacate his default in failing to appear at a scheduled court conference, and ending with his failure to oppose the motions that led to the amended judgment of foreclosure and sale appealed from. Accordingly, since there were no “matters which were the subject of contest before the Supreme Court” (Geffner v Mercy Med. Ctr., 167 AD3d at 572 [internal quotation marks omitted]), the appeal must be dismissed in its entirety.

Equity Inv. & Mtge. Co. v Smith, 173 AD3d 690 [2d Dept. 2019]

Although courts have discretionary power to relieve a party from a judgment or order “for sufficient reason and in the interest[ ] of substantial justice” (Woodson v Mendon Leasing Corp., 100 NY2d 62, 68 [2003]; see Katz v Marra, 74 AD3d 888, 890 [2010]), “[a] court’s inherent power to exercise control over its judgment[ ] is not plenary, and should be resorted to only to relieve a party from judgments taken through [fraud,] mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect” (Matter of McKenna v County of Nassau, Off. of County Attorney, 61 NY2d 739, 742 [1984] [internal quotation marks omitted]; see HSBC Bank USA v Josephs-Byrd, 148 AD3d 788, 790 [2017]). Here, the arguments advanced by the City in support of its motion did not constitute grounds for relief, either under CPLR 5015 (a) or pursuant to the Supreme Court’s inherent discretionary power to vacate the judgment for sufficient reason and in the interest of substantial justice (see Matter of McKenna v County of Nassau, Off. of County Attorney, 61 NY2d at 742; HSBC Bank USA v Josephs-Byrd, 148 AD3d at 790; Alexander v New York City Tr. Auth., 35 AD3d 772 [2006]).

Diamond v Leone, 173 AD3d 686 [2d Dept. 2019]

The Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in finding that the plaintiff did not demonstrate a reasonable excuse for her failure to appear on November 28, 2017. In an affirmation in support of the motion, the plaintiff’s attorney submitted a detailed and credible explanation of the law office failure which caused the default in appearing. The plaintiff’s attorney affirmed that an entry in the “Comments” field for the subject appearance date on the “eLaw” website had created confusion as to whether the scheduled appearance had been adjourned from November 28 to November 30, and that the attorney’s law office had repeatedly attempted to contact the Part Clerk on November 27 and November 28 for clarification and had left a voicemail message. The attorney affirmed that when his law office finally communicated directly with the Part Clerk at approximately 11:30 a.m. on November 28, his law office was advised that the case had been dismissed due to the plaintiff’s failure to appear. The attorney’s affirmation was supported by, among other things, printouts from the “eLaw” website. Therefore, the plaintiff provided a reasonable excuse for failing to appear (see 555 Prospect Assoc., LLC v Greenwich Design & Dev. Group Corp., 154 AD3d 909 [2017]; Hobbins v North Star Orthopedics, PLLC, 148 AD3d 784 [2017]; Polsky v Simon, 145 AD3d 693 [2016]). The plaintiff also demonstrated a potentially meritorious cause of action (see 555 Prospect Assoc., LLC v Greenwich Design & Dev. Group Corp., 154 AD3d at 910). Accordingly, the court should have granted the plaintiff’s motion to vacate the “order on default” dated November 28, 2017, and to restore the action to the trial calendar.

Bank of N.Y. Mellon v Ruci, 168 AD3d 799 [2d Dept. 2019]

The appellant’s vague and unsubstantiated claim of law office failure by an unidentified attorney was insufficient to establish a reasonable excuse for her default (see LaSalle Bank, N.A. v LoRusso, 155 AD3d 706, 707 [2017]; U.S. Bank N.A. v Barr, 139 AD3d 937, 938 [2016]; M & T Bank v Morris, 138 AD3d 939 [2016]). Since the appellant failed to establish a reasonable excuse for her default, it is not necessary to determine whether she demonstrated a potentially meritorious defense to the action (see LaSalle Bank, N.A. v LoRusso, 155 AD3d at 706; Bank of N.Y. Mellon v Colucci, 138 AD3d 1047, 1048 [2016]; M & T Bank v Morris, 138 AD3d at 940). 

EMC Mtge. Corp. v Walker, 2019 NY Slip Op 06474 [2d Dept. 2019]

Here, when the plaintiff moved, in effect, to vacate the May 2013 order and to restore the action to the calendar, it failed to proffer a reasonable excuse for its default in appearing at the scheduled court conference, and merely alleged that “there was no missed appearance, and as such 22 NYCRR 202.27 does not apply.” Moreover, the plaintiff failed to articulate any basis for the more than 2½-year delay in moving to vacate the order of dismissal (see id. at 1252; Wright v City of Poughkeepsie, 136 AD3d 809). In light of the lack of a reasonable excuse, it is unnecessary to determine whether the plaintiff demonstrated the existence of a potentially meritorious cause of action (see Wright v City of Poughkeepsie, 136 AD3d at 809; Selechnik v Law Off. of Howard R. Birnbach, 120 AD3d 1220). Thus, we disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to hold a traverse hearing on June 22, 2016, and its subsequent determination granting the plaintiff’s motion, in effect, pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) to vacate the May 2013 order and to restore the action to the calendar, and that branch of the plaintiff’s separate motion which was to extend the time to serve Walker in the interest of justice.

LaSalle Bank, N.A. v Delice, 2019 NY Slip Op 06485 [2d Dept. 2019]

Most importantly, the plaintiff did not provide any explanation as to why it delayed more than five years before filing its motion to vacate, apart from the vague assertion that it hired new counsel because, at some point, the law firm that represented the plaintiff at the time of the January 2011 order subsequently closed. The plaintiff’s contention that the delay was justified because its subsequent counsel expended extensive efforts to comply with Administrative Orders 548/10 and 431/11 of the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts is raised for the first time on appeal and not properly before us (cf. U.S. Bank N.A. v Ahmed, 137 AD3d 1106, 1108-1109). The plaintiff’s lengthy delay in moving to vacate, failure to adequately explain the delay, and failure to pursue other available avenues of relief support the court’s determination not to exercise its discretion to vacate the dismissal order in the interests of substantial justice (seeHSBC Bank USA v Josephs-Byrd, 148 AD3d at 790; cf. U.S. Bank N.A. v Ahmed, 137 AD3d at 1108-1109).

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