Monday, September 7, 2020

Standard of Review to Open a Default Judgment Reviewed by Superior Court


In the case of Scalla v. KWS, Inc., 2020 Pa. Super. 191(Pa. Super. Aug. 11, 2020 Lazarus, J., Bender, P.J.E., Strassburger, J.) (Op. by Lazarus, J.)(Concurring Op. by Strassburger, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed the standard of review with respect to a Defendant’s efforts to open a default judgment.

According to the Opinion, the Defendant was hit with a default judgment in this products liability action. The Defendant’s registered agent received service and signed for it, but never opened the delivery. That agent also later did the same thing with the notice of the intent to take a default judgment.

The Defendant’s first response to the default was an invalid attempt to remove the case to federal court, not an effort to open the default judgment in the state court. The court noted that no Petition to Open the Default Judgment was filed until over 300 days after the Notice of Default was presented.

Moreover, when a Petition to Open was finally filed, it was unverified in violation of Pa. R.C.P. 206.3.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court found that the Defendant’s Petition to Open was properly denied as untimely.

The appellate court additionally agreed with the trial court that the boilerplate allegations in the Defendant’s proposed Answer to the Complaint did not establish, in the required precise, specific, and clear terms, a meritorious defense.

As such, the denial of the Petition to Open a Default Judgment by the trial court was affirmed.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  Judge Strassburger's Concurring Decision can be viewed HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

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