MIAMI – The Third District Court of Appeal has reversed a trial court's order that granted a motion to vacate default in a contract dispute between two companies.
Judge Ivan F. Fernandez ruled Nov. 27 to reverse the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court's ruling that granted appellee Moon LLC's motion to vacate default and default final judgment in a suit with appellants Magnolia Court LLC and Buena Vista Design Plaza. Fernandez said that "finding that service was properly effectuated on Moon LLC and thus, appellants were not required to comply with the substituted service provisions of Chapter 48, Florida Statutes (2018)."
The ruling states that the appellants filed a single-count complaint seeking a declaratory judgment on Nov. 2, 2015, regarding an alleged contract regarding two parcels of commercial real estate in Miami. The appellants attempted to serve Moon LLC on Dec. 8, 2015, but were not able to do so as Moon's registered agent was absent.
Fernandez wrote after verifying that there was no business in the state of Florida by the name of Moon LLC, the appellants filed a motion for default judgment on Jan. 5, 2016, which the trial court granted on Jan. 21, 2016, after a final hearing. On Feb. 1, 2016, the trial court entered a final judgment against Moon.
After the default judgment was entered, Moon moved to vacate the default final judgment contending that the judgment was void for failure to provide actual service to it. Moon LLC also alleged that default should be vacated due to excusable neglect, meritorious defense and due diligence.
The appellants alleged that Moon's motion was untimely as it was filed more than a year after default final judgment, the opinion states.
After a hearing, the trial court granted Moon's motion and vacated the judgment and the appellants appealed.
"There is no dispute that Moon LLC had actual notice of the default judgment 13 months before it moved to vacate the default, and it waited almost two years from the date of the final judgment before it filed its motion to vacate, which shows a lack of due diligence in seeking relief," Fernandez wrote. "Thus, Moon LLC did not meet the requirements for relief from the default final judgment.
"...We thus reverse the trial court’s order granting Moon LLC’s motion to vacate default and default final judgment and remand the case with instructions to reinstate the default and default final judgment against Moon LLC."