Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Default Judgment Opened in Monroe County

In the case of Yasdiman v. Watson, No. 3652-CV-2019 (C.P. Monroe Co. Oct. 13, 2020 Williamson, J.), the court granted a Defendant’s Petition to Open a Default Judgment.

The court reviewed the general requirements of the opening of a default judgment which included a timely filed petition, a reasonable explanation or excuse for the delay that resulted in the entry of a default judgment, and the presentation of a responsive pleading setting forth a meritorious defense.

The court emphasized that, under Pa. R.C.P. 237.3(a)(2), there is no need to meet the first two (2) requirements if the Petition to Open was filed within the first ten (10) days after the entry of the judgment.

In this matter, the Plaintiff filed a Praecipe for a Default Judgment on March 9, 2020. However, the Prothonotary did not enter the judgment and mail notice to the parties until March 13, 2020. 

The Defendants filed the Answer and New Matter on March 12, 2020, which would have been the day before the Prothonotary entered the judgment on the docket and mailed out a notice of the same to the parties.

The Defendants filed a Petition to Strike or Open the Judgment on March 23, 2020, which would have been the tenth day after the Prothonotary had entered the judgment on the docket and mailed out the notices to the parties, but would have been more than ten (10) days after the date the Plaintiff actually filed the Praecipe for Default Judgment.

The court noted that the Defendant’s Petition to Open or Strike was filed on the tenth day filing the entry of default judgment. As such, the court applied Pa. R.C.P. 237.3(a)(2) and held that the Defendants only had to provide a responsive pleading with the meritorious defense to open the judgment. The court reviewed the Answer and New Matter that was filed and noted several possible defenses, including assumption of the risk, lack of causation, and the statute of limitations. As the court found that the Defendants’ pleading was sufficient to meet the requirements of the rule, the Motion to Open was granted.

Judge Williamson went on to note that, even if the judgment was deemed to be filed on March 9, 2020, the court found that the Defendant still met all three (3) elements of the requirements to support the opening of a default judgment.

Since the Petition to Open was granted, the court did not address whether the judgment should be stricken as was also requested by the defense.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Nov. 24, 2020).

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