The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that plaintiff bank had abandoned the foreclosure action by failure to move for a default judgment within one year. The bank’s participation in mandatory settlement conferences did not constitute the initiation of an action for a default judgment:
CPLR 3215(c) provides, in part, that if the plaintiff fails to take proceedings for the entry of judgment within one year after the defendant’s default, “the court shall not enter judgment but shall dismiss the complaint as abandoned, without costs, upon its own initiative or on motion” … . “The language of CPLR 3215(c) is not, in the first instance, discretionary, but mandatory, inasmuch as courts shall’ dismiss claims … for which default judgments are not sought within the requisite one-year period, as those claims are then deemed abandoned” … . However, the failure to timely seek a default judgment may be excused if “sufficient cause is shown why the complaint should not be dismissed” … . To establish sufficient cause as required by CPLR 3215(c), a plaintiff must proffer a reasonable excuse for the delay in timely moving for a default judgment and demonstrate that it has a potentially meritorious cause of action … .
… [A]fter this action was released from the mandatory foreclosure settlement conference part in July 2016, the plaintiff was authorized to proceed with the prosecution of this action. However, despite the fact that the appellants failed to answer or otherwise appear in the action after being served with process, the plaintiff took no steps to initiate proceedings for the entry of a default judgment against the appellants. The plaintiff’s participation in the mandatory foreclosure settlement part conferences did not constitute the initiation of proceedings for the entry of a default judgment. Moreover, more than one year passed from the time that the plaintiff was authorized to resume prosecution of this action prior to the appellants moving in October 2017 to dismiss the complaint as abandoned …. In light of the plaintiff’s failure to meet its burden to show sufficient cause why the complaint should not be dismissed as abandoned, it is not necessary to address the issue of whether the plaintiff demonstrated that it had a potentially meritorious cause of action … . HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v Slone, 2019 NY Slip Op 05963, Second Dept 7-31-19