Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bethpage Federal Credit Union v. Grant

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

December 24, 2019

Bethpage Federal Credit Union, respondent,
v.
Stafford C. Grant, appellant, et al., defendants. Index No. 15201/11

          Argued - September 9, 2019

         D61630 T/afa

          Gail M. Blasie, P.C., Garden City, NY, for appellant.

          Berkman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy & Fenchel, P.C., Garden City, NY (Thomas A. Hooker of counsel), for respondent.

          CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, J.P. JOSEPH J. MALTESE HECTOR D. LASALLE LINDA CHRISTOPHER, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         In an action to foreclose a mortgage, the defendant Stafford C. Grant appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Nassau County (Thomas A. Adams, J.), entered January 27, 2016. The order denied that defendant's motion, inter alia, pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) to vacate an order and judgment of foreclosure and sale (one paper) of the same court entered September 12, 2014, upon his default in appearing or answering, or, in the alternative, pursuant to CPLR 317 to vacate his default in appearing or answering the complaint and for leave to interpose an answer.

         ORDERED that the order entered January 27, 2016, is affirmed, with costs.

         The plaintiff commenced this action against the defendant Stafford C. Grant (hereinafter the defendant), among others, to foreclose a mortgage encumbering certain property in Freeport. The defendant neither appeared nor interposed a timely answer. By order entered August 12, 2013, the Supreme Court granted the plaintiff's unopposed motion, inter alia, for leave to enter a default judgment and for an order of reference, and referred the matter to a referee to ascertain and compute the amount due to the plaintiff.

         On September 12, 2014, the Supreme Court entered an order and judgment of foreclosure and sale, inter alia, confirming the referee's report and directing the foreclosure sale of the subject property. Thereafter, the defendant moved, inter alia, pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) to vacate the order and judgment of foreclosure and sale, or, in the alternative, pursuant to CPLR 317 to vacate his default in appearing or answering the complaint and for leave to interpose an answer. By order entered January 27, 2016, the Supreme Court denied the defendant's motion, and the defendant appeals.

         A process server's affidavit of service constitutes prima facie evidence of proper service and, therefore, gives rise to a presumption of proper service (see U.S. Bank N.A. v Ramos, 153 A.D.3d 882, 884; Wells Fargo Bank, NA v Chaplin, 65 A.D.3d 588, 589). "A mere conclusory denial of service is insufficient to rebut the presumption of proper service arising from the process server's affidavit" (Washington Mut. Bank v Huggins, 140 A.D.3d 858, 859). "In order to warrant a hearing to determine the validity of service of process, the denial of service must be substantiated by specific, detailed facts that contradict the affidavit of service" (id. at 859; see Machovec v Svoboda, 120 A.D.3d 772, 773-774).

         Here, the amended affidavit of service reflects that the defendant was served pursuant to CPLR 308(2) on October 29, 2011, by delivery of the summons and complaint to a female coresident of the mortgaged premises, who was a person of suitable age and discretion and whose physical description was set forth in detail, followed by the required mailing to the address of the mortgaged premises.

         CPLR 317 permits a defendant who has been served with a summons and complaint other than by personal delivery to defend the action upon a finding by the court that the defendant did not personally receive notice of the summons and complaint in time to defend and has a potentially meritorious defense (see Eugene Di Lorenzo, Inc. v A.C. Dutton Lbr. Co., 67 N.Y.2d 138, 141; Wassertheil v Elburg, LLC, 94 A.D.3d 753, 754). However, "to support a determination granting relief under CPLR 317, a party must still demonstrate, and the Court must find, that the party did not receive actual notice of the summons and complaint in time to defend the action" (Wassertheil v Elburg, LLC, 94 A.D.3d at 754 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see CPLR 317; Eugene Di Lorenzo, Inc. v A.C. Dutton Lbr. Co., 67 N.Y.2d at 142). "The mere denial of receipt of the summons and complaint is . . . insufficient to establish lack of actual notice for the purpose of CPLR 317" (Wassertheil v Elburg, LLC, 94 A.D.3d at 754 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Bank of N.Y. v Samuels, 107 A.D.3d 653, 654). Here, the defendant's contention that his estranged wife deliberately concealed the summons and complaint from him is speculative and without sufficient evidentiary support. Insofar as the defendant contends that service pursuant to CPLR 308(2) was defective because his wife was not a person of suitable discretion, that contention is improperly raised for the first time on appeal. In light of the foregoing, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in denying that branch of the defendant's motion which was pursuant to CPLR 317 without regard to whether the defendant demonstrated the existence of a potentially meritorious defense (see Stevens v Stepanski, 164 A.D.3d 935, 938; Xiao Lou Li v China Cheung Gee Realty, LLC, 139 A.D.3d 724, 726).

         The Supreme Court also providently exercised its discretion in denying that branch of the defendant's motion which was pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1). A defendant seeking to vacate a default in answering or appearing upon the grounds of excusable default pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) must demonstrate a reasonable excuse for the default and a potentially meritorious defense to the action (see Eugene Di Lorenzo, Inc. v A.C. Dutton Lbr. Co., 67 N.Y.2d at 141; HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v Smart, 155 A.D.3d 843, 843). "'The determination of what constitutes a reasonable excuse lies within the sound discretion of the Supreme Court'" (Deutsche Bank Natl. Trust Co. v Saketos, 158 A.D.3d 610, 612, quoting Maspeth Fed. Sav. & Loan Assn. v McGown, 77 A.D.3d 889, 890). In this case, the defendant failed to establish a reasonable excuse for his default, since the only excuse he proffered was that he was not properly served with process (see Indymac Fed. Bank FSB v Quattrochi, 99 A.D.3d 763, 765; Reich v Redley, 96 A.D.3d 1038; Pezolano v Incorporated City ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.