Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment - Evidence Required

Ex parte Joshua Ward, [Ms. 1170183, May 18, 2018] So. 3d __ (Ala. 2018). This decision by Justice Sellers issues a writ of mandamus directing the Shelby Circuit Court to vacate its order setting aside a default judgment entered against an automobile dealership. Plaintiff argued that the default judgment was improperly set aside because the dealership failed to present any facts, evidence, or authority that it had a meritorious defense, that plaintiff would not be unfairly prejudiced if the default judgment were set aside, and lack of culpability on the part of the dealership.

The Court noted that the trial court’s broad discretion under Rule 55(c), Ala. R. Civ. P., to decide whether to set aside a default judgment is only activated when “the [defaulted] party alleges and provides evidence regarding each of the three Kirtland [v. Fort Morgan Auth. Sewer Serv., Inc., 524 So. 2d 600 (Ala. 1988)] factors. Ms. *7. The Court noted that the dealership merely averred that it had a good and meritorious defense but failed to provide any evidence substantiating that assertion. The Court held “[i]t is well settled that bare legal conclusions unsupported by affidavit or other evidence do not suffice to demonstrate a meritorious defense under Kirtland.” Ibid.

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