Case Caption: Mackchesney Appleton v. Allan HarriganCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2013-0002Date: 09/09/2014Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: Summary:

In a lawsuit against the foreclosure-purchaser of certain property, who then brought a counterclaim for unpaid rent, a judgment for the purchaser on the counterclaim awarding some $49,000 in rent liability against the appellant is affirmed. Treating the pro se party's motions relating to a new trial as a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 60(b) for relief from judgment, even the greater leeway granted to pro se parties does not excuse the appellant's failure to appear or respond to the allegations against him when he had been properly served and informed of the consequences of such a failure. Thus the Superior Court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion to set aside the entry of default judgment. By virtue of the default, admitting the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact, he is barred from contesting the facts thus established. The default did not resolve the issue of damages, and the claim against appellant for unpaid rent did not qualify as a sum certain. While the Superior Court never held a separate default judgment hearing, it appears to have consolidated the default judgment hearing against appellant and the bench trial on the merits of other related claims, a de facto consolidation in the interests of judicial economy. Appellant was not prejudiced by this procedure since he attended a pretrial conference where he was made aware that he was still a party to the action and would be allowed to participate during the trial proceeding. While the defaulting defendant has the right to cross-examine plaintiff's witnesses and to introduce affirmative testimony on his own behalf in mitigation of damages at such a hearing, it cannot be said here that appellant's failure to enter an appearance or participate as a party at the consolidated proceedings was the result of any error committed by the Superior Court, which made several efforts to accommodate his participation at the consolidated proceeding that were largely ignored. Arguments regarding liability under the agreement with purchaser of the property and whether appellant was properly joined in the suit are waived. The Superior Court's December 10, 2012 order and judgment are affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion