Affirms trial court order setting aside its previous entry of default against appellee-plaintiff

Thursday, October 9, 2008 by Bose Archives

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Appellant-defendant Cherokee Air Products, Inc., f/k/a Tippmann Pneumatics, Inc., L.P. (Cherokee), appeals the trial court’s order setting aside its previous entry of default against appellee-plaintiff Burlington Insurance Company (Burlington). Cherokee argues that the trial court erred by setting aside the entry of default against Burlington.
Conclusion (slip op. at 10):  Although we do not celebrate Burlington’s inexplicable failure to respond to Cherokee’s counterclaim, given these facts and our general predilection to decide cases on their merits, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by setting aside the entry of default against Burlington and entering final judgment in its favor. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
Key Analysis (slip op. at 6-7):  Where, as here, a trial court enters a default on liability but not on damages, the order is not a final judgment such that Rule 60(B) applies. Instead, under these circumstances, if the party who has been defaulted on liability seeks to have the trial court revisit its default order, the party should file a motion for reconsideration of what our S.C has dubbed “an interlocutory ruling”. In this case, therefore, Cherokee’s appeal should more properly be framed as whether the trial court erred by sua sponte reconsidering its entry of default against Burlington and entering final judgment in Burlington’s favor.

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