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Appearance at a Foreclosure Settlement Conference Considered an “Informal Appearance” and not a Default by the Mortgagor

foreclosure defense lawyerIn a case of first impression, Justice Jack Battaglia sitting in Supreme Court Real Property Part in Kings County, New York, dealt with an issue as to whether the appearance by the mortgagor at the mandated Foreclosure Court Conference part in Kings County without submitting a formal written answer to the summons and complaint can be considered an informal appearance denying the financial institution the ability to claim the homeowner was in default.

In this case, the financial institution brought a summary judgment application to the Court. A summary judgment motion claims there are no issues of fact and therefore no trial is necessary. The basis for the summary judgment was the default by the mortgagor, Butler, in this proceeding. There were two prior applications by the financial institution but questions concerning the affidavit of service caused them to be denied. The Judge had the case sent over to the Foreclosure Settlement Conference Part for mandatory foreclosure settlement proceedings.

Mr. Butler made numerous appearances at the Foreclosure Conference Part. The judge questioned whether since Butler appeared in the action in the Foreclosure Conference Part, how could she be “in default” for purposes of entering a judgment on default. The Court took the position, under New York case law, what Butler made was called an “informal appearance” within the time specified in the Summons and Complaint.
This is covered by New York Civil Practice and Rules § 320(a). The judge therefore entered a decision that Butler was not in default. A motion to enter judgement based on default could not be granted since Butler was not in default. Butler had participated in court conferences pursuant to this informal appearance. It should be noted, Butler appeared twenty-five times in the Foreclosure Conference Settlement Part and several other times before the court. The financial institution’s application for a default judgment was denied.

homeowner advocatesElliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure defense attorney representing homeowners throughout the metropolitan New York area. Elliot and his staff of attorneys have been keeping homeowners in their homes for more than twenty years.

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