The Appellate Group

Gillman v. Gillman

Gillman v. Gillman, 2021 UT 33 (Petersen, J.)

Civil Procedure; Default Certificate

The plaintiff filed a complaint, and rather than filing an answer, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss. After some litigation, the district court agreed to convert the motion into one for summary judgment and ordered that the defendant file an answer. The defendant did not file a timely answer, and the district court entered a default certificate against the defendant. Five days after that order was entered, the defendant moved to set aside the default, and the court granted that motion. On interlocutory appeal, the Utah Supreme Court affirmed the setting aside of the default judgment, holding:

  • Under Utah R. Civ. P. 55(c), to set aside a default certificate, a moving party must show why there is good cause to set aside the default, not why there is good cause for the default. The standard to set aside a default judgment (in Rule 60(b)) is higher than the standard to set aside a default certificate in Rule 55(c).
  • Any doubts should be resolved in favor of setting aside a default certificate and allowing the case to proceed on the merits. Although the court of appeals has articulated several factors that a court may consider, the district court can consider anything that is relevant in determining whether the default certificate should be set aside.
  • The district court did not abuse its discretion in setting aside the default certificate.

Read the full court opinion