Setting Aside Default Judgments

by Andrew. J. Petersen

The law favors resolving cases on their merits. Sometimes defendants fail to timely answer a lawsuit. The insured may provide notice to the insurance carrier, but for some reason, there is delay and an answer is not timely filed. Rule 60(b) allows a defendant to later move to set aside the default under certain circumstances. In deciding whether to set aside a judgment, the trial court may consider whether there was due diligence, excusable neglect, or a meritorious defense. Trial courts are given broad discretion. “Because the law favors resolution on the merits, all doubts are to be resolved in favor of the moving party and the trial court is given broad discretion to grant or deny relief. That discretion extends not only to the adequacy of the factual showing but also to the balancing in particular cases of the competing legal principles favoring finality of judgments and resolution on the merits.” Addison v. Cienega, Ltd., 146 Ariz. 322, 323, 705 P.2d 1373, 1374 (App. 1985).

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