Can An Excusable Neglect Be One of the Grounds Upon Which An Aggrieved Party Be Relieved from Default Judgement ?
In Lincoln American Life Insurance Co. v. Parris, 390 So. 2d 148 (Fla. 1st DCA 1980), the First District reversed a trial court's denial of a motion to set aside a default where the trial court treated the defendant's answer to the plaintiff's complaint as a nullity because it was signed by a lawyer not admitted to practice in Florida although others at his firm were so admitted.
The First District held the lawyer's violation of rule 2.060(b) the product of excusable neglect, concluding that the attorney's misconduct was mitigated by the shortness of time available to the out-of-state defendant "to serve a timely answer, and by counsel's apparent intention to secure Florida counsel for further appearances." Id. at 149.
In Lincoln, , the First District heard an appeal from the denial of a motion to set aside a default.
Under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.540, a showing of excusable neglect is one of the grounds upon which an aggrieved party can be relieved from a default judgment. See Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.540(b).