Reopen Judgement After Failure to Appear In Court
A motion to reopen is considered under the standard to obtain relief from a judgment found in Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 60(b), which states:
(b) Mistake; Inadvertence; Excusable Neglect; Newly Discovered Evidence; Fraud, etc. on motion and upon such terms as are just, the Court may relieve a party or a party's legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:
(1) Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation or other misconduct of an adverse party;
(3) the judgment is void;
(4) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged, or a prior judgment upon which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application;
(5) any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.
A motion to reopen is within the sound discretion of the court. Phillips v. Siano, Del. Super., C.A. No. 97 C-11-010, Graves, J., 1999 WL 1225245 (Oct. 29, 1999) When making a determination, the court should resolve any doubts in favor of the petitioner because of the public policy to determine an action on its merits. Phillips, supra, at 2 (citing Keystone Fuel Oil Co. v. Del-Way Petroleum, Inc., Del. Super., 364 A.2d 826, 828 (1976)).
However, the burden is upon the movant to establish the basis for relief. Phillips, supra, at 2 (citing Weeks v. Wilson, Del. Supr., No. 422, 1989, Walsh, J. (May 31, 1990)).
To fulfill the standard of Rule 60(b), the Court must consider four (4) factors:
that his conduct was that of a reasonably prudent person;
that the motion was not brought after an unreasonable delay;
the presence of a meritorious defense; and
the lack of substantial prejudice to the non-moving party. Phillips, supra, at 3 (citing Concors Supply Co., Inc. v. Berger, Del. Super., Del Pesco, J. 1988 WL 130437 (Nov. 9, 1988)).