New York City Debt Collection Defense Attorney

Need to Vacate a Default Judgment? Include Good "Excuses" for Not Defending

Facing a wage garnishment or bank restraint due to a judgment? Consider the excuses below to help you overturn the judgment at issue.

In 2022, there were over 1 million wage garnishments in the United States, and New York was one of the leading states for this type of enforcement activity. If you face judgment enforcement, knowing your rights and options is important.

New York law (CPLR § 5015) allows you to file a motion to vacate a judgment. This means that you can ask the court to set aside the judgment and give you another chance to defend yourself. There are a number of grounds for vacating a judgment, including excusable neglect, lack of personal jurisdiction, and meritorious defenses. Excusable neglect is a legal term that means that you had a good reason for not appearing in court to defend against the judgment. For example, if you were seriously ill or out of the country at the time, you may have a valid excuse for neglect. 

Although bad service of papers is often alleged as a stand-alone basis to vacate a judgment, I always recommend providing any and all excuses (reasons) why you couldn't appear in court to defend even if you had been properly served with papers. I would further recommend that you describe in detail all defenses you may have to the case, referred to as "meritorious" defenses, since they're supposed to have "merit." Examples of meritorious defenses could include the inaccurate amount, lack of standing, or the expiration of the statute of limitations).

Possible Reasons for Failing to Appear in Court:

  1. Absent from the area, state, or country, unable to attend court.
  2. Residing outside the court's legal authority, questioning jurisdiction.
  3. Received poor legal representation affecting case outcome.
  4. Work commitments conflicted with court schedules.
  5. Sudden business crises clashed with court dates.
  6. Court clerical errors led to missed appearances.
  7. Court notices were not received as required.
  8. Important legal documents for the case were misplaced.
  9. The opposing party's deceit affected case fairness.
  10. Coercion or threats prevented court attendance.
  11. Death, illness, or disability caused absence from court.
  12. Unreported address change resulted in missed court communications.
  13. Incarceration made court attendance impossible.
  14. Fraudulent actions by others impacted the case.
  15. Language barriers hindered court process understanding.
  16. Unfamiliarity with legal procedures led to non-compliance.
  17. Severe weather conditions prevent travel.
  18. Transportation issues, such as vehicle breakdowns or public transit disruptions.
  19. Dependent care emergencies, including childcare or eldercare crises.
  20. Mental health crises that impair the ability to participate in legal proceedings.
  21. Active military duty or sudden deployment.
  22. Technical failures, including loss of internet connectivity or computer malfunctions.
  23. Conflicting civic responsibilities, such as jury duty in another case.
  24. Cultural observances and religious holidays that coincide with court dates.
  25. Educational commitments, like mandatory class attendance or exams.
  26. Mandatory public health restrictions, including quarantine or isolation orders.

A judge has discretion whether to honor or reject your offered excuses. Using any of the above is no guarantee that you'll succeed. Other factors will be considered in your case (for example, time delay, opportunity to defend, strength of defenses, and credibility).

Using plenty of facts to support your legal position, you would be wise to mount an aggressive challenge. We would be delighted to discuss your case with you. Feel free to complete a short intake form.

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