CPLR R. 5015 Relief from judgment or order
(a) On motion
(1) excusable default...
(2) newly-discovered evidence...
(3) fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party
(4) lack of jurisdiction to render the judgment or order
(5) reversal, modification or vacatur of a prior judgment or order upon which it is based
CPLR § 308 Personal service upon a natural person
(2) by delivering the summons within the state to a person of suitable age and discretion...
(4) where service under paragraphs one and two cannot be made with due diligence, by affixing the summons to the door
CPLR § 317 Defense by person to whom summons not personally delivered
CPLR R. 320 Defendant's appearance
(a) Requirement of appearance
Caba v Rai, 2009 NY Slip Op 05252 (App. Div., 1st, 2009)
CPLR 317 and 5015(a)(1) allow a defendant against whom a default judgment has been rendered to move to vacate that default. CPLR 317 provides that"[a] person served with a summons other than by personal delivery to him or to his agent for service designated under rule 318 . . . who does not appear may be allowed to defend the action within one year after he obtains knowledge of entry of the judgment, but in no event more than five years after such entry, upon a finding of the court that he did not personally receive notice of the summons in time to defend and has a meritorious defense."
Thus, this statute is available only to a defendant who (1) was served by a method other than personal delivery, (2) moves to vacate the judgment within one year of learning of it (but not more than five years after entry), and (3) demonstrates a potentially meritorious defense to the action. By contrast, CPLR 5015(a)(1) is available to any defendant against whom a default judgment was entered, provided that the defendant can demonstrate both a reasonable excuse for the default and a potentially meritorious defense. A defendant seeking relief under 5015(a)(1) must move to vacate the default judgment within one year of service on defendant of the default judgment with notice of entry. Both provisions assume personal jurisdiction exists over the defaulting defendant and provide that party with an opportunity to open the default and contest the merits of the plaintiff's claim (see Alexander, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, Book 7B, CPLR C317:1, at 249-250 [main vol]; see also Siegel, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, Book 7B, CPLR C5015:6, at 210). If the defaulting defendant asserts that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over him or her, the defendant should seek dismissal of the action under CPLR 5015(a)(4) (see Alexander, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, Book 7B, CPLR C317:1, at 250 [main vol]), a motion that has no stated time limit and can be made at any time (Siegel, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons Laws, Book 7B, CPLR C5015:3, at 205-206 [main vol]).
In moving to vacate the default judgment, defendant argued that she was entitled to relief under CPLR 317 or 5015(a)(1) and sought to vacate the judgment and for an extension of time to interpose an answer; she did not seek relief under 5015(a)(4) or request that the complaint be dismissed for want of personal jurisdiction. To be sure, in her notice of cross motion, defendant requested an order "vacating and setting aside the defendant's [default] pursuant to CPLR 5015 and/or CPLR 317, extending the defendant's time to answer and compelling plaintiff to accept defendant's answer pursuant to CPLR 2004." Nowhere in her motion papers, however, did defendant suggest that the action should be dismissed because the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her. Although defendant did argue that she had not received the summons and complaint (or the default judgment), that argument was asserted by defendant in an effort to establish that she had a reasonable excuse for her default. What the concurring Justice considers to be part of the "crux" of defendant's motion, "the absence of any personal jurisdiction," was never stated in the motion. Accordingly, since defendant sought to vacate the judgment and defend the action on the merits, Supreme Court erred in ordering a traverse hearing; defendant charted a specific procedural course that Supreme Court improperly altered (see Mitchell v New [*3]York Hosp., 61 NY2d 208, 214 ).[FN1]
With respect to her contention that she was entitled to relief under CPLR 317, defendant obtained knowledge of the judgment in January 2004 when she received a credit report listing the judgment, and did not move to vacate the default until August 2007. Thus, that portion of defendant's cross motion seeking relief under CPLR 317 was untimely.
Regarding that portion of the cross motion that sought relief under CPLR 5015(a)(1), there is no indication when the default judgment with notice of entry was served on defendant. Thus, assuming without deciding that defendant properly could seek relief under 5015(a)(1),[FN2] the motion appears timely and plaintiff does not argue to the contrary. Nonetheless, defendant is not entitled to relief under 5015(a)(1). Although defendant denied receiving the summons and complaint or any other papers in this matter until she was served with plaintiff's motion to compel the sheriff to seize and sell her property, defendant learned of the judgment in January 2004. She did not move to vacate the default, however, until August 2007 and only did so in response to plaintiff's motion to seize and sell her property. Moreover, plaintiff's counsel [*4]averred that both defendant and her attorney contacted plaintiff's counsel on May 11, 2005 about vacating the judgment, an averment that is corroborated by phone message slips generated by plaintiff's counsel's secretary and which defendant does not dispute. Thus, defendant failed to proffer a reasonable excuse for her substantial delay in moving to vacate the judgment (see Bekker v Fleischman, 35 AD3d 334 ; Robinson v 1068 Flatbush Realty, Inc., 10 AD3d 716 ; Duran v Edderson, 259 AD2d 728 ). In light of our conclusion that defendant failed to proffer a reasonable excuse, we need not determine whether she offered a potentially meritorious defense to the action.
To read the concurring opinion, click the link for the decision above.
Kalamadeen v Singh, 2009 NY Slip Op 05296 (App. Div., 2nd, 2009)
The plaintiff and the defendant allegedly were involved in an automobile accident on February 26, 2001. The police accident report lists two different addresses for the defendant, one from his driver's license and a different one from his vehicle registration. The plaintiff commenced this action in February 2004, and contends that he served the defendant pursuant to CPLR 308(4) at the defendant's address then on record at the Department of Motor Vehicles (hereinafter the DMV). This address was different from the two addresses on the police accident report. The defendant did not appear in the action and a judgment was entered against him on August 18, 2004, upon his default.
Upon discovering the judgment against him, the defendant moved to vacate it, contending that at the time service allegedly was made he did not live at the address where process was affixed and mailed, he did not receive process, and that the subject accident was the plaintiff's fault. A hearing to determine the validity of service of process was ordered. At the hearing, the process server admitted that on the fourth occasion that he attempted to personally deliver the summons and complaint to the defendant at the defendant's address then on record with the DMV, he was told by the owner of the premises that the defendant had moved from that address several months earlier. Nevertheless, the process server affixed the summons and complaint to the door at that address and mailed process to that address, [*2]purportedly in compliance with CPLR 308(4). The Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens County, granted the defendant's motion to vacate the default, and the Appellate Term for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts affirmed, with one Justice dissenting. We granted leave to appeal and now reverse and deny the defendant's motion to vacate the default judgment.
CPLR 308(4) requires that the summons be affixed to the door of the defendant's "actual place of business, dwelling place or usual place of abode." Although the required subsequent mailing to the defendant's last known residence will suffice for the second element of service under CPLR 308(4), affixing process to the door of the defendant's last known residence will not be sufficient to meet the first element of the statute (see Feinstein v Bergner, 48 NY2d 234). The issue here is whether there is sufficient evidence, including the defendant's failure to notify the Commissioner of the DMV of his change of address, as required by Vehicle and Traffic Law § 505(5), to estop the defendant from obtaining vacatur of the default judgment on the ground that service of process was not made in strict compliance with CPLR 308(4) (see Cruz v Narisi, 32 AD3d 981).
To the extent that the defendant's motion to vacate his default was made pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1), based upon excusable default, it should have been denied, as the defendant's change of address is not a reasonable excuse because he failed to comply with Vehicle and Traffic Law § 505(5) (see Candela v Johnson, 48 AD3d 502; Labozzetta v Fabbro, 22 AD3d 644; Traore v Nelson, 277 AD2d 443). Likewise, to the extent that the motion was made pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(4), based on lack of personal jurisdiction, it should have been denied, as the defendant is estopped from challenging the propriety of service due to his failure to comply with Vehicle and Traffic Law § 505(5) (see Labozzetta v Fabbro, 22 AD3d 644; Kandov v Gondal, 11 AD3d 516).A default judgment may be vacated pursuant to CPLR 317 where the defendant was served by a method other than personal delivery and did not actually receive notice of the summons in time to defend, provided that the defendant has a meritorious defense (see Thakurdyal v 341 Scholes St., LLC, 50 AD3d 889). However, "denial of relief under CPLR 317 might be appropriate where . . . a defendant's failure to personally receive notice of the summons was a deliberate attempt to avoid such notice" (Eugene Di Lorenzo, Inc. v A. C. Dutton Lbr. Co., 67 NY2d 138, 143). Here, considering that the defendant supplied the police officer with two different addresses at the time of the officer's investigation, and that there was yet another address on record for the defendant at the DMV, his failure to comply with Vehicle and Traffic Law § 505(5) raised an inference that the defendant deliberately attempted to avoid notice of the action (see Cruz v Narisi, 32 AD3d 981). The defendant failed to rebut that inference. Accordingly, the defendant was not entitled to relief under CPLR 317 (see Eugene Di Lorenzo, Inc. v A. C. Dutton Lbr. Co., 67 NY2d 138, 143; Paul Conte Cadillac v C.A.R.S. Purch. Serv., 126 AD2d 621, 622.
That's one harsh inference.
Weiqin Wu v Guo Dong Chen, 2009 NY Slip Op 51142(U) (App. Term, 2nd, 2009)
The decision of a fact-finding court should not be disturbed upon appeal unless it is obvious that the court's conclusions could not have been reached under any fair interpretation of the evidence (see Claridge Gardens v Menotti, 160 AD2d 544 ). This standard applies with greater force to judgments rendered in the Small Claims Part of the court (see Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d 125, 126 ). Furthermore, the determination of the trier of fact as to issues of credibility is given substantial deference as the court has the opportunity to observe and evaluate the testimony and demeanor of the witnesses, thereby affording the trial court a better [*2]perspective from which to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses (see Vizzari v State of New York, 184 AD2d 564 ; Kincade v Kincade, 178 AD2d 510, 511 ).
In its decision after trial, the Civil Court explicitly stated that it credited plaintiff's testimony, but not defendant's. The Civil Court also implicitly found that plaintiff had established that there was an agreement between plaintiff and defendant, acting in his individual capacity, and that defendant had breached that agreement. That finding is supported by the record and will not be disturbed on appeal.
The Civil Court properly denied defendant's posttrial motion, as defendant failed to establish that he had discovered any evidence that he could not have discovered prior to trial or prior to the time for making a timely CPLR 4404 motion (CPLR 5015 [a] ), or that plaintiff had made any misrepresentations (CPLR 5015 [a] ). We note that defendant also failed to establish that the agreement was void pursuant to the statute of frauds (see e.g. Taranto v Fritz, 83 AD2d 864 ; 61 NY Jur 2d, Statute of Frauds § 39).
Accordingly, the Civil Court's judgment and order provided the parties with substantial justice according to the rules and principles of substantive law (CCA 1807; see Ross v Friedman, 269 AD2d 584 ; Williams, 269 AD2d at 126), and we affirm.
Saxon Mtge. Servs., Inc. v Bell, 2009 NY Slip Op 05312 (App. Div., 2nd, 2009)
Where, as here, the appellant submitted a detailed affidavit stating that he was home on each of the occasions when the process server purportedly attempted to serve process pursuant to CPLR 308(2), he rebutted the allegations contained in the process server's affidavit and was entitled to a hearing to determine whether personal jurisdiction was acquired over him (see Bankers Trust Co. of Cal. v Tsoukas, 303 AD2d 343).While the appellant eventually acquired actual notice of the action, actual notice alone will not sustain the service or subject a person to the court's jurisdiction when there has not been compliance with prescribed conditions of service (see Frankel v Schilling, 149 AD2d 657; Skyline Agency v Coppotelli, Inc., 117 AD2d 135).
The bold is mine.