Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Pennsylvania Superior Court Reverses Trial Court's Opening of Default Judgment



In the case of Rivers End Animal Sanctuary and Learning Center, Inc. v. Eckhardt, No. 1848-CV-2019 (Pa. Super. May 7, 2021) (Op. by Kunselman, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a trial court erred in opening a default judgment where the Defendant failed to establish a meritorious defense and violated Rule 237.3 by failing to attach Preliminary Objections or an Answer and New Matter to the Defendant’s Petition to Open a Default Judgment.

According to the Opinion, this matter arose out of a dispute over the ownership of a number of horses.

After suit was filed by way of a declaratory judgment action to determine the rights and ownership over the horses, a default judgment was entered against the Defendant for failing to respond.

The Defendant filed a Petition to Open the Default Judgment ten (10) days later. The trial court opened the default and allowed the case to proceed.

On appeal, the appellate court agreed with the Plaintiff’s contention that the Defendant had failed to establish a meritorious defense given that the Defendant had merely stated boilerplate language in identifying a defense or defenses in its Petition to Open the Default.

The appellate court also found that the trial court had misapplied Rule 237.3(a) by overlooking the Defendant’s failure to attach Preliminary Objections or an Answer and New Matter to the Petition to Open a Default Judgment.

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


Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (May 25, 2021).





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