State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v Knish Hacking Corp.,  2016 NY Slip Op 50996(U)

This case is about the old law office failure explanation used commonly by lawyers when they fail to answer.  Here, due to the length of time counsel (or somebody) waited, the court was not amused:

To open its default in answering the complaint, defendant was required to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for the default and a potentially 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 [1986]; Betz v. Carbone, 126 AD3d 743, 744 [2015] ). Defense counsel asserts “law office failure” as the explanation for the default, and the release as the meritorious defense. While “the court has discretion to accept law-office failure as a reasonable excuse” (Vardaros v. Zapas, 105 AD3d 1037, 1038 [2013] ), the facts herein are inadequate to permit a finding that the failure represents an excuse that is reasonable. Defense counsel’s “bare allegations of neglect” are insufficient to justify the delay (id.). The neglect of the action, totaling over a year, was not by a single attorney representing an isolated episode but a pattern of dereliction, by more than one counsel, resulting first in a several months’ failure to file an answer, followed by the failure of a second attorney for a comparable period prior to the motion involved herein to open the default. “[W]hile CPLR 2005 allows courts to excuse a default due to law office failure, it was not the Legislature’s intent to routinely excuse such defaults, and mere neglect will not be accepted as a reasonable excuse’ “ (Alberton Devs., Inc. v. All Trade Enters., Inc., 74 AD3d 1000, 1001 [2010], quoting Ortega v. Bisogno & Meyerson, 38 AD3d 510, 511 [2007] ). Given the pattern of delay and the “serious lack of concerned attention to the progress of this action” (Lauro v. Cronin, 184 A.D.2d 837, 839 [1992] ), the neglect cannot be excused.

It didn’t help that the Court did not agree with meritorious defense either.

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