The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendant’s motion to vacate the default judgment should not have been granted because defendant did not offer a reasonable excuse for the failure to timely answer:
Supreme Court should have denied the defendant’s cross motion, in effect, to vacate its default in answering the complaint and to compel the plaintiff to accept its late answer … . “A defendant who has failed to timely answer a complaint and who seeks leave to file a late answer must provide a reasonable excuse for the delay and demonstrate a potentially meritorious defense to the action” … . Here, the defendant failed to proffer any excuse, let alone a reasonable excuse, for failing to serve an answer prior to the tolling period created by the executive orders issued by former Governor Andrew Cuomo as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic … as well as its failure to serve an answer or move to compel acceptance of its late answer for months after the expiration of the executive orders. Since the defendant failed to demonstrate a reasonable excuse, it is unnecessary to consider whether it sufficiently demonstrated the existence of a potentially meritorious defense … . 195-197 Hewes, LLC v Citimortgage, Inc., 2022 NY Slip Op 05065, Second Dept 8-31-22
Practice Point: Here defendant’s failure to offer a reasonable excuse for failing to timely answer the complaint required denial of defendant’s motion to vacate the default judgment. Apparently the COVID toll of time limits did not suffice.