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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: July 8, 2020

Complaint Dismissed for Failure to Seek Default Judgment Within One Year

On July 1, 2020, the Second Department issued a decision in 16501 Jamaica Ave., LLC v. Hara, 2020 NY Slip Op. 03635, dismissing a complaint because of the plaintiff’s failure to seek a default judgment, explaining:

In March 2016, the plaintiff commenced this action, inter alia, to recover on a personal guaranty. The defendant failed to timely appear or answer the complaint. In October 2018, the plaintiff moved for leave to amend the complaint. Thereafter, the defendant cross-moved pursuant to CPLR 3215(c) to dismiss the complaint as abandoned. In an order entered March 21, 2019, the Supreme Court granted the plaintiff’s motion and denied the defendant’s cross motion. The defendant appeals.

CPLR 3215(c) provides that if the plaintiff fails to take proceedings for the entry of judgment within one year after the default, the court shall not enter judgment but shall dismiss the complaint as abandoned unless sufficient cause is shown why the complaint should not be dismissed. The language of CPLR 3215(c) is not, in the first instance, discretionary, but mandatory, inasmuch as courts shall’ dismiss claims for which default judgments are not sought within the requisite one-year period, as those claims are then deemed abandoned. Failure to take proceedings for entry of judgment may be excused, however, upon a showing of sufficient cause, which requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that it had a reasonable excuse for the delay in taking proceedings for entry of a default judgment and that it has a potentially meritorious action.

Here, the plaintiff failed to offer a reasonable excuse as to why it did not seek leave to enter a default judgment within one year following the defendant’s default. Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have granted the defendant’s cross motion pursuant to CPLR 3215(c) to dismiss the complaint as abandoned and denied the plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend the complaint.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

If you are served with a complaint and fail timely to answer, or if you answer and do not appear at schedule court appearances, the court can enter judgment against you: a default judgment. Contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at jlundin@schlamstone.com if you or a client have questions regarding whether you have been properly served or if a default judgment has been entered against you.

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