The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the default judgment should have been vacated in the interest of justice and the complaint dismissed based on documentary evidence. The loan which was the basis of the action was criminally usurious:
“CPLR 5015(a) ‘does not provide an exhaustive list as to when a default judgment may be vacated'” … . “In addition to the grounds set forth in section 5015(a), a court may vacate a default ‘for sufficient reason and in the interests of substantial justice'” … . “[A] party is not necessarily required to establish a reasonable excuse in order to be entitled to vacatur in the interest of justice” … . * * *
The plaintiff does not dispute that the agreement effected an annual interest rate exceeding the criminally usurious threshold of 25% (see Penal Law § 190.40).
… “Under CPLR 3211(a)(1), a dismissal is warranted only if the documentary evidence utterly refutes plaintiff’s factual allegations, conclusively establishing a defense as a matter of law” … . Here, … the defendants conclusively established through the submission of the agreement that it constituted a criminally usurious loan … . Crystal Springs Capital, Inc. v Big Thicket Coin, LLC, 2023 NY Slip Op 05121, Second Dept 10-11-23
Practice Point: A motion to vacate a default in the interest of justice does not require a reasonable excuse.
Practice Point: The usurious loan agreement justified dismissal based on documentary evidence.