Monday, January 6, 2014

10-Day Notice for Default Judgment

Frank Kosir, Jr.
Wells Fargo Bank, NA v. Vanmeter, 2013 PA Super 115, 2013 Pa. Super. LEXIS 725 (2013)

This matter addressed the issue of whether a party entering a default judgment must first file with the court a copy of the 10-Day Notice provided to the party against whom the default judgment is sought.  Edwin M. Vanmeter and Mary A. Vanmeter (“Debtors”) gave a mortgage (“Mortgage”) against certain real property (“Property”) situated in the City of Stroudsburg, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, to Wells Fargo Bank (“Wells Fargo”).  The Debtors defaulted under the Mortgage, and Wells Fargo commenced a foreclosure action by filing a Complaint in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas.  The Complaint, which included a proper Notice to Defend, was served upon the Debtors on June 4, 2010.  The Debtors failed to file a responsive pleading and Wells Fargo filed a praecipe for default judgment to which were attached copies of four (4) separate 10-Day Notices provided to the individual Debtors at both their Pennsylvania and Florida addresses.   Pursuant to Wells Fargo’s praecipe, the court entered a default judgment against the Debtors on July 20, 2010.  Thereafter, on March 19, 2012, the Debtors filed a petition to open or strike the default judgment alleging, inter alia, that Wells Fargo’s failure to separately file the 10-Day Notices with the court prior to the filing of its praecipe for default judgment rendered the judgment defective.  The trial court heard arguments, and issued an order denying the Debtors’ petition.

On appeal, our Superior Court affirmed.  In issuing its ruling, the court noted that, pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 237, a party seeking the entry of a default judgment is not required to file a copy of the 10-Day Notice with the court.  Rather, that party is only required to: (1) certify that notice of its intent to take a default judgment was provided to the opposing party at least ten (10) days prior to its taking of the judgment, and (2) attach a copy of the notice to its praecipe.  In this instance, the record established that Wells Fargo had provided the individual Debtors with the requisite 10-Day Notice at both their Florida and Pennsylvania addresses, that it had attached copies of those 10-Day Notices to its praecipe for default judgment, and that its praecipe included a certification of the service of the 10-Day Notices.  As such, Wells Fargo had satisfied all of the requirements of Pa.R.C.P. 237, and the trial court had properly refused to open or strike the default judgment. 

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