The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff’s motion to vacate the order entered upon plaintiff’s default should not have been granted:
Pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1), “[t]he court which rendered a judgment or order may relieve a party from it upon such terms as may be just, on motion of any interested person . . . upon the ground of . . . excusable default.” “A party seeking to vacate an order entered upon his or her default in opposing a motion must demonstrate both a reasonable excuse for the default and a potentially meritorious opposition to the motion” . “Law office failure may qualify as a reasonable excuse for a party’s default if the claim of such failure is supported by a credible” and detailed explanation of the default … . The determination as to what constitutes a reasonable excuse is a matter of the court’s discretion, but mere neglect will not suffice … .
… [A] managing attorney at the law firm representing the plaintiff was notified of the February 28, 2018 adjourned deadline to submit opposition papers to the defendants’ motion, and a member of the firm entered a “follow up docket date” for February 7, 2018, “to ensure that the opposition was being handled” … . However, instead of “follow[ing] up with the managing attorney to make sure the opposition was assigned,” the member of the law firm returned the file to the file room. As the member of the law firm affirmed, “[i]t simply was not addressed properly.” … [T]he plaintiff did not move to vacate the order dated August 29, 2018, for approximately eight months, or 253 days, after being served with the order and notice of entry … .
… [T]he plaintiff’s failure to oppose the defendants’ motion was the equivalent of mere neglect and was therefore insufficient to warrant vacatur … . Sauteanu v BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc., 2022 NY Slip Op 06509, Second Dept 11-16-22
Practice Point: A motion to vacate an order entered upon a party’s default may be granted on law-office-failure grounds but not if the matter was simply neglected. Here the plaintiff did not move to vacate the order for 253 days after service of the order and notice of entry. The court found the plaintiff’s failure to oppose the summary judgment was due to neglect and the motion to vacate the order should not have been granted.