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The Huntington Nat'l Bank v. Car-X Assocs. Corp.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 2, 2014

THE HUNTINGTON NATIONAL BANK, Appellant,
v.
CAR-X ASSOCIATES CORP., Appellee

Page 688

APPEAL FROM THE PORTER SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable William E. Alexa, Judge. Cause No. 64D02-1401-MF-398.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JOHN DAVID CROSS, Mercer Belanger, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: CHRISTOPHER M. KEEFER, Sopko, Nussbaum, Inabnit & Kaczmarek, South Bend, Indiana.

BROWN, Judge. BRADFORD, J., concurs. BARNES, J., dissents with separate opinion.

OPINION

Page 689

BROWN, Judge

The Huntington National Bank (" Huntington" ) appeals the trial court's denial of its motion to set aside default judgment in favor of Car-X Associates Corp. (" Car-X" ). Huntington raises one issue, which we restate as whether the court erred or abused its discretion in denying its motion to set aside default judgment. We reverse and remand.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On January 8, 2014, Car-X filed a complaint to foreclose a judgment lien it had obtained in 2013 against real property owned by Susanne and Terry Wood in the amount of $200,359.90 plus fees, costs, and post-judgment interest. The complaint named Huntington as a defendant because Huntington held a mortgage on the property which secured a loan to the Woods made in 2005 in the original principal amount of $310,500. The complaint and summons were served upon Huntington's registered agent for service of process by certified mail on January 27, 2014.

Paul Burnside was the Foreclosure Supervisor for Huntington. In his affidavit, Burnside stated he received service of Car-X's complaint on or about January 28, 2014, and referred the matter to counsel on February 25, 2014. Burnside further stated that the individual in his department who typically received service of process for Huntington was on a medical leave of absence when Huntington received service; that in addition to his regular duties he was assisting the individual who typically received service of process for Huntington during her leave of absence; that his regular duties included supervision of Huntington's pre-sale foreclosure staff, review of daily reports and updates, oversight of the foreclosure attorney network, and daily review of compliance with investor and governmental guidelines; and that he received the summons in the case but due to the volume of his regular duties was unable to timely refer the matter to counsel.

On February 25, 2014, Car-X moved for default judgment against Huntington. On February 27, 2014, the trial court granted Car-X's motion and specifically found that " Car-X's interest in and to the real estate . . . is prior and superior to any and all interests, estates, rights, titles, claims, liens, and/or encumbrances of Huntington." Appellee's Appendix at 50. The practical result of the default judgment was to make Huntington's mortgage subordinate to the judgment lien of Car-X. On March 14, 2014, counsel for Huntington filed an appearance, an answer, and a motion to set aside the default judgment. After conducting a hearing, the trial court denied Huntington's motion on April 24, 2014. Huntington now appeals.

DISCUSSION

The issue is whether the trial court erred or abused its discretion in denying Huntington's motion to set aside default judgment under Ind. Trial Rule 60(B). Upon appellate review of a refusal to set aside a default judgment, the trial court's ruling is entitled to deference and will be reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Watson,747 N.E.2d 545, 547 (Ind. 2001). The trial court's discretion should be exercised in light of the disfavor in which default judgments are generally held. Id.; see also Coslett v. Weddle Bros. ...


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