Legal Memorandum: Relief from a Voidable Judgment

Issue: What are the grounds for relief from a voidable judgment in Minnesota?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Relief from a voidable judgment; Grounds; Default judgment
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 450 N.W.2d 137; 237 Minn. 28; 355 N.W.2d 207; 55 N.W.2d 710; 428 N.W.2d 96; 341 N.W.2d 877; 179 N.W.2d 718; 53 N.W.2d 454; 321 N.W.2d 36
Cited Statutes: Rule 60.02(c); Rule 60.02(f)
Date: 10/01/2000

In seeking relief from a voidable judgment, Minnesota courts require a party to affirmatively establish four different factors:

1)                  the party has a reasonable defense on the merits;

2)                  the party has a reasonable excuse for the failure or neglect to answer;

3)                  the party has acted with due diligence after notice of entry of judgment; and

4)                  the party establishes that no substantial prejudice will result to the other party if the relief is granted.

Hinz v. Northland Milk & Ice Cream Co., 237 Minn. 28, 53 N.W.2d 454, 455-56 (1952); Conley v. Downing, 321 N.W.2d 36, 40 (Minn. 1982).  Where all four factors exist, the court has a duty to grant a motion to vacate the default judgment.  Standard Oil Co. v. King, 238 Minn. 81, 55 N.W.2d 710, 712 (1952).

Under Rule 60.02(c), a court may vacate a default judgment in circumstances of fraud, misrepresentation or other misconduct of the adverse party.  In addition, under Rule 60.02(f), a court may vacate a default judgment for “[a]ny other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.” 

A party seeking relief from a default judgment must act with “due diligence,” or promptly, after the notice of the entry of judgment.  Conley, 321 N.W.2d at 40-41.  What constitutes a reasonable time in responding to the entry of a judgment depends upon the facts of the particular case […]

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