The Third Department determined Supreme Court properly vacated the default order and judgment which were issued because of plaintiff’s attorney’s failure to meet discovery deadlines and attend scheduled conferences. Plaintiff, upon learning of the default, promptly hired new counsel and moved to vacate the default order and judgment. The Third Department noted that an attorney’s misconduct is not necessarily to be imputed to the represented party:
“A motion to vacate a prior judgment or order is addressed to the court’s sound discretion, subject to reversal only where there has been a clear abuse of that discretion”… . Further, “[c]ourts are not limited to vacating a judgment pursuant to the enumerated grounds set forth in CPLR 5015 . . ., as they retain inherent discretionary power to vacate their own judgments for sufficient reason and in the interests of substantial justice”… .
Here, even applying the arguably more exacting standard set forth in CPLR 5015 (a) (1), we do not find that Supreme Court abused its discretion in granting [plaintiff’s] motion. While there indeed may be instances where counsel’s inaction or dilatory conduct may be imputed to the client … , a review of [plaintiff’s] affidavit — together with the supporting documentation annexed thereto — reveals that she never intended to abandon either the pursuit of action No. 1 or the defense of action No. 2 … but, rather, reasonably believed that [her attorney] was actively pursuing and properly defending [plaintiff’s] interests in the context thereof … . Inwald Enters., LLC v Aloha Energy, 2017 NY Slip Op 06031, Third Dept 8-3-17
CIVIL PROCEDURE (DEFAULT, ATTORNEY’S INACTION NOT IMPUTED TO THE CLIENT, DEFAULT ORDER AND JUDGMENT PROPERLY VACATED (THIRD DEPT))/ATTORNEYS (DEFAULT, ATTORNEY’S INACTION NOT IMPUTED TO THE CLIENT, DEFAULT ORDER AND JUDGMENT PROPERLY VACATED (THIRD DEPT))