COOPER v. COOPER

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

Barry COOPER, etc., respondent, v. Mark COOPER, appellant.

Decided: October 28, 2008

FRED T. SANTUCCI, J.P., MARK C. DILLON, THOMAS A. DICKERSON, and CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, JJ. Paykin Mahon Rooney & Krieg, LLP, New York, N.Y. (Albert K. Lawler of counsel), for appellant. Gerald A. Bunting, New York, N.Y., for respondent.

In an action for a declaratory judgment, the defendant appeals from so much of an order of the Supreme Court, Nassau County (Warshawsky, J.), entered September 13, 2007, as denied his motion to vacate a judgment entered July 7, 2007, upon his default in answering or appearing.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed insofar as appealed from, with costs.

A defendant seeking to vacate a default in appearing or answering must demonstrate a reasonable excuse for the default and a meritorious defense to the action (see CPLR 5015[a][1];  Eugene Di Lorenzo, Inc. v. A.C. Dutton Lbr. Co., 67 N.Y.2d 138, 141, 501 N.Y.S.2d 8, 492 N.E.2d 116;  Canty v. Gregory, 37 A.D.3d 508, 829 N.Y.S.2d 694;  Mjahdi v. Maguire, 21 A.D.3d 1067, 802 N.Y.S.2d 700;  Taylor v. Saal, 4 A.D.3d 467, 771 N.Y.S.2d 671).   The determination of what constitutes a reasonable excuse lies within the discretion of the Supreme Court (see Bergdoll v. Pentecoste, 17 A.D.3d 613, 794 N.Y.S.2d 78;  Matter of Gambardella v. Ortov Light., 278 A.D.2d 494, 717 N.Y.S.2d 923;  MacMarty Inc. v. Scheller, 201 A.D.2d 706, 707, 608 N.Y.S.2d 294).

The Supreme Court properly concluded that the defendant's excuse for his default, which was in the nature of a law office failure, was insufficient to vacate the default judgment entered against him (see Incorporated Vil. of Hempstead v. Jablonsky, 283 A.D.2d 553, 554, 725 N.Y.S.2d 76;  Miles v. Blue Label Trucking, 232 A.D.2d 382, 648 N.Y.S.2d 138).   In view of the lack of reasonable excuse, it is unnecessary to consider whether the defendant demonstrated a meritorious defense (see Levi v. Levi, 46 A.D.3d 519, 520, 848 N.Y.S.2d 228;  American Shoring, Inc. v. D.C.A. Constr., Ltd., 15 A.D.3d 431, 789 N.Y.S.2d 722).

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