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Relief from Judgment under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.540

Posted on: March 12, 2013

Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.500(b) provides that “[w]hen a party against whom affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend as provided by these rules or any applicable statute or any order of court, the court may enter a default against such party.”

In Yale Mortgage Corporation v. Blot, 3D12-1894 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013), Yale Mortgage filed a mortgage foreclosure complaint against Blot. The complaint was served August 26, 2011. In October 2011, the trial court entered a default against Blot who failed to respond to the complaint. The trial court entered a final judgment of foreclosure against Blot on January 12, 2012.  Shortly after the property was sold in May of 2012, Blot filed a motion to vacate the default and default final judgment and requested that the trial court vacate the sale. The trial court granted Blot’s motions.

The Third District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order finding in part that Blot failed to show any excusable neglect for failure to answer the complaint. Blot waited until seventy days after Yale Mortgage served the complaint and over two weeks after the default had been entered. A movant seeking relief from a judgment must show that his failure to respond was the result of excusable neglect, the existence of a meritorious defense, and that the movant acted with due diligence in seeking relief.  Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.540(b) (2012).