2011 Connecticut Code
Title 52 Civil Actions
Chapter 900 Court Practice and Procedure
Sec. 52-212. Opening judgment upon default or nonsuit.

      Sec. 52-212. Opening judgment upon default or nonsuit. (a) Any judgment rendered or decree passed upon a default or nonsuit in the Superior Court may be set aside, within four months following the date on which it was rendered or passed, and the case reinstated on the docket, on such terms in respect to costs as the court deems reasonable, upon the complaint or written motion of any party or person prejudiced thereby, showing reasonable cause, or that a good cause of action or defense in whole or in part existed at the time of the rendition of the judgment or the passage of the decree, and that the plaintiff or defendant was prevented by mistake, accident or other reasonable cause from prosecuting the action or making the defense.

      (b) The complaint or written motion shall be verified by the oath of the complainant or his attorney, shall state in general terms the nature of the claim or defense and shall particularly set forth the reason why the plaintiff or defendant failed to appear.

      (c) The court shall order reasonable notice of the pendency of the complaint or written motion to be given to the adverse party, and may enjoin him against enforcing the judgment or decree until the decision upon the complaint or written motion.

      (1949 Rev., S. 7963, 7964; 1959, P.A. 28, S. 114; 1967, P.A. 849; P.A. 74-183, S. 87, 291; P.A. 76-436, S. 131, 681; P.A. 82-160, S. 102.)

      History: 1959 act substituted circuit court for municipal court which was abolished; 1967 act clarified rights of plaintiff; P.A. 74-183 removed circuit court from purview of section, reflecting transfer of its functions to court of common pleas, effective December 31, 1974; P.A. 76-436 removed court of common pleas from purview of section, reflecting transfer of all trial jurisdiction to superior court, effective July 1, 1978; P.A. 82-160 rephrased the section and inserted Subsec. indicators.

      Refusal to open a judgment of default, upon motion, may be reviewed where the question is purely one of law; 51 C. 391; but otherwise the motion is addressed to the sound discretion of the court. 69 C. 362. Action by court where substitute complaint improperly allowed after default. 86 C. 313. Formerly did not include nonsuit. Averments in complaint. 75 C. 317. Petition for new trial may be brought after the four-month period has elapsed. 93 C. 161. Effect of judgment of default; this only further procedure permitted. 97 C. 123. Cited. 123 C. 491. Default resulting from party's own neglect will not be opened. 138 C. 27. No abuse of discretion in denying motion when it appears the defendant has no defense or has not been prevented from appearing by mistake, accident or other reasonable cause. 139 C. 532. Cited. 144 C. 389. Judgment of nonsuit for failure to appear should be opened if plaintiff can show reasonable cause. 147 C. 260. A motion to open judgment which stated merely that an appearance was entered as soon as defendant's attorney received notice of the action, held not a reasonable cause for opening judgment. 148 C. 435. Cited. 150 C. 191, 195; 152 C. 699. Statement that defendant failed to secure substitute counsel because of confusion attendant upon bankruptcy proceedings did not particularly set forth the reason why defendant failed to appear. Statute construed. Relief under statute discretionary. 154 C. 294. Prior to 1967 amendments, last two sentences applied to written motions as well as complaints. Id., 297. Where no attempt was made to show any mistake, accident or other reasonable cause for default, there was no abuse of discretion in court's denial of motion to reopen judgment. 156 C. 6. Since, on appeal, defendant requested no finding and none was made, he failed to show cause why his motion to open default judgment against him should have been granted or to establish error in trial court's denial of motion. 159 C. 352, 358. Relief under statute ordinarily should not be granted if failure to comply with order of court resulted from moving party's own negligence. Id., 427, 432. Defendant precluded from attacking a finding as unsupported by the evidence as he failed to request a transcript of the record pursuant to section 51-70a. 168 C. 184. Whether proceeding under common law or statute, action of trial court in granting or refusing application to open judgment is generally within discretion of such court, and its action will not be disturbed on appeal unless trial court has clearly abused its discretion. 172 C. 520. Cited. 176 C. 579. Cited. 179 C. 290; Id., 671. Cited. 187 C. 509, 510. Cited. 188 C. 145, 151. Continuing jurisdiction under this statute not affected by provisions of Sec. 49-35c(b). Id., 253. Cited. 190 C. 679; Id., 707. Cited. 193 C. 128; Id., 160. Cited. 196 C. 233; Id., 355. Cited. 200 C. 697. Cited. 208 C. 230. Cited. 214 C. 464. Cited. 216 C. 341. Cited. 224 C. 263. Cited. 225 C. 705. Cited. 231 C. 462. Cited. 236 C. 78.

      Cited. 1 CA 282; Id., 298. Cited. 5 CA 230. Cited. 6 CA 504. Cited. 9 CA 320; Id., 355. Cited. 10 CA 160. Cited. 14 CA 172; Id., 236. Cited. 15 CA 308. Cited. 18 CA 589. Cited 19 CA 8. Cited. 22 CA 424. Cited. 28 CA 7. Section requires date of judgment not be included in time calculation. 29 CA 465. Cited. 30 CA 541. Cited. 31 CA 634. Cited. 35 CA 236. Cited. 40 CA 404. Cited. 42 CA 119. Cited. 45 CA 137. Cited. 46 CA 54. Trial court lacks jurisdiction to consider a motion to open judgment filed outside the four-month period and may refuse to consider procedurally defective motions. 51 CA 1. Negligence of a party or his counsel is insufficient for purposes of statute to set aside a default judgment. 63 CA 544. It is axiomatic that the right to move to open and vacate a judgment assumes that the party who is to exercise the right be given opportunity to know that there is a judgment to open. Plaintiff that demonstrated it did not receive notice of entry of nonsuit in timely manner allowed to file motion to open within four months of receiving notice. 68 CA 68. Court has intrinsic power, independent of statutory provision, to vacate any judgment obtained by fraud, duress or mutual mistake. 78 CA 684.

      Cited. 7 CS 250. Judgment of nonsuit not reopened to allow filing of substituted complaint where the action had been in court over a year previously and counsel did not see fit to plead over within the time provided by rules of court. 8 CS 372. Judgment in uncontested divorce action set aside where appearance of defendant's counsel by accident or inadvertence was not entered. 16 CS 111. Statute refers to a final judgment and not to judgment by default. 17 CS 118. Cited. 19 CS 288. A default is not a judgment but an interlocutory order of court, the effect of which is to preclude defendant from making any further defense in the case so far as liability is concerned. A judgment upon default, on the other hand, is the final judgment in the case which is entered after the default and after a hearing in damages. A motion to set aside a default may be filed at any time before entry of judgment, may be informal in nature and may be granted for such reason as the court sees fit. 24 CS 81. Trial court's refusal to open a default judgment because of defendant's negligence in failing to appear was not an abuse of discretion on the record. 31 CS 540. Failure of defendants to appear on date set by court order of final assignment for trial because they relied on assistant court clerk's advice the action had been reassigned to a later date, not "reasonable cause" for opening default judgment. Id., 549. Cited. 33 CS 554; Id., 775. Cited. 34 CS 501; Id., 559. In order not to frustrate the remedial purpose of the statute the time limit provisions must be construed as a limitation on the prejudiced party rather than as a jurisdictional barrier to the exercise of judicial power. 35 CS 581. Cited. Id., 598. Cited. 36 CS 626. Cited. 37 CS 676. Cited. 38 CS 731. Default judgment should not be opened where defendant received actual notice of the action but chose to ignore authority of the court. 45 CS 563.

      Failure to move to open judgment resulted in waiver of claim of discharge in bankruptcy. 2 Conn. Cir. Ct. 386. Cited. 3 Conn. Cir. Ct. 7. Mere negligence or inattention of a party is no ground for vacating a judgment on default against him. Id., 397. Where plaintiff's motion to open judgment on default was denied, he was not precluded from petitioning for a new trial. Determination of motion was not res judicata. 4 Conn. Cir. Ct. 201. Granting motion to open judgment on default abuse of discretion where facts show failure to appear and defend due to defendant's negligence. Id., 396. Granting of motion to open judgment is interlocutory ruling, reviewable upon appeal from final judgment, and appeal was not allowed as this was not final action of circuit court. 5 Conn. Cir. Ct. 207. Cited. 6 Conn. Cir. Ct. 289. Opening judgment after default, unless based on pure error of law, lies in sound discretion of court. Id., 291.

      Subsec. (a):

      Defendant's motion to open judgment was properly denied since a party must meet both parts of two prong test and defendant failed to allege any purported defense to the action. 193 C. 160. Cited. 212 C. 741. Cited. 234 C. 783. Trial court did not err in refusing to open default judgment in foreclosure action because evidence gave rise to a reasonable presumption of receipt of actual notice of the action by nonresident defendant. 278 C. 92.

      Cited. 13 CA 223. Cited. 27 CA 755; judgment reversed, see 225 C.757. Cited. 38 CA 506. Cited. 39 CA 253. Cited. 40 CA 590. Cited. 43 CA 645. Cited. 44 CA 381; Id., 724. Cited. 46 CA 5. Negligence is not sufficient reason to open a judgment of default. 78 CA 466.

      Subsec. (b):

      Cited. 10 CA 1.

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