Kahn v. Orme

Citation835 P.2d 790,108 Nev. 510
Decision Date05 August 1992
Docket NumberNo. 21784,21784
PartiesJeffrey KAHN, Appellant, v. Brent Robert ORME, Respondent.
CourtSupreme Court of Nevada

Richard R. Reed, Las Vegas, for appellant.

Cohen, Lee, Johnson & Merialdo, Las Vegas, for respondent.



The sole issue on appeal is whether the district judge abused her discretion in denying a motion to set aside default judgment pursuant to NRCP 60(b). We hold that she did not.


On or about September 12, 1987, respondent Brent Robert Orme ("Orme") was employed as a doorman for the Moby Grape Nightclub in Las Vegas, Nevada. Appellant Jeffrey Kahn ("Kahn") was a patron at the nightclub, along with his brother Frank and two other companions. Orme alleges that during the course of the evening, Kahn and his brother engaged in unruly and destructive behavior, following which Orme asked Kahn to leave the premises with his party. As Orme walked behind the party, he alleges that Kahn's brother Frank became abruptly violent and engaged in an unprovoked and malicious attack on Orme. Orme further alleges that as he was attempting to restrain Kahn's brother, he fell to the ground and Kahn kicked Orme several times. When the police arrived, Orme was placed under arrest, based on false accusations apparently manufactured by Kahn.

Orme was subsequently charged with attempted murder and battery. The attempted murder charge was dropped. Orme was subsequently acquitted of all remaining charges following a trial before Judge Donald M. Mosley on August 8, 1988. Orme then filed a complaint against Kahn and his companions for battery, defamation and malicious prosecution on December 2, 1988.

Kahn was personally served with a copy of the summons and complaint, through his wife, on February 4, 1989, at his residence in San Mateo County, California. After Kahn failed to file an answer, Orme filed a motion for entry of default judgment which was scheduled for hearing on April 13, 1989. On April 13, 1989, Kahn made a special appearance through his counsel, Peter L. Flangas ("attorney Flangas"), to quash service of process. Kahn's motion was subsequently granted and Orme petitioned this court for a writ of mandamus, which was unopposed by Kahn. 1 The writ was granted and the district court was On December 12, 1989, Orme filed a re-notice of motion for entry of default judgment. The motion was set for hearing on January 3, 1990. However, on or about December 20, 1990, attorney Flangas and Kahn agreed to terminate their attorney-client relationship. Thereafter, attorney Flangas filed a motion to withdraw and Kahn personally appeared before Judge J. Charles Thompson, without counsel, at the hearing on January 3, 1990. 2 Judge Thompson informed Kahn that motions for attorney Flangas' withdrawal and default judgment were pending and advised him to obtain counsel. The hearing was continued until January 18, 1990, to be heard before Judge Nancy A. Becker.

instructed to accept personal jurisdiction over Kahn on November 27, 1989. See Orme v. District Court, 105 Nev. 712, 782 P.2d 1325 (1989).

Following the January 3, 1990 hearing, Kahn did not obtain counsel as advised. Moreover, Kahn did not file an opposition to the motion for default judgment, and also failed to personally appear at the hearing on January 18, 1990. As a result, a default judgment was entered against Kahn in the amount of $9,624.26 as damages for legal fees incurred by Orme in his defense of the criminal prosecution instigated by Kahn, together with $134.69 for costs. The hearing was continued to February 8, 1990, for Orme to prove-up all further damages. Because of his absence at the hearing on January 18, 1990, Kahn had no notice of the continuance.

At the hearing on February 8, 1990, Orme provided evidence and testimony regarding the additional damages. Kahn was not in attendance and was unrepresented. Following the hearing, the district court awarded Orme $100,000.00 in general damages and $50,000.00 in punitive damages, for a total award of $159,398.93 plus postjudgment interest. The final default judgment was filed on February 16, 1990.

Nearly six months later, on August 10, 1990, Kahn filed a motion for relief from judgment pursuant to NRCP 60(b). 3 Following a hearing held on September 20, 1990, Judge Becker denied Kahn's motion for relief in an order filed on October 12, 1990.


The standard of review for an order denying an NRCP 60(b) motion for relief is whether the district court abused its discretion. Heard v. Fisher's & Cobb Sales, 88 Nev. 566, 568, 502 P.2d 104, 105 (1972) (citations omitted). District judges are afforded broad discretion in ruling on NRCP 60(b) motions. Britz v. Consolidated Casinos Corp., 87 Nev. 441, 445, 488 P.2d 911, 914-15 (1971) ("the trial judge is free to judiciously and reasonably exercise discretion in determining whether a default judgment should be set aside"). Kahn bases his argument primarily on NRCP 60(b)(1).

Under NRCP 60(b)(1), the district court may relieve a party from a final judgment on grounds of "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect." Before granting an NRCP 60(b)(1) motion, the district court must consider several factors, as provided in Yochum v. Davis, 98 Nev. 484, 653 P.2d 1215 (1982). First, there must have been "a prompt application to remove the judgment." Yochum, 98 Nev. at 486, 653 P.2d at 1216 (citing Hotel Last Frontier v. Frontier Prop., 79

                Nev. 150, 380 P.2d 293 (1963)) (citations omitted) (emphasis added).  Second, there must be an "absence of an intent to delay the proceedings."  Id.  (Emphasis added.)   Third, there must be evidence of "a lack of knowledge of procedural requirements" on the part of the moving party.  Id.  (Emphasis added).  Fourth, the motion must be made in "good faith."  Id.  (Emphasis added.)   Fifth, "the moving party must promptly tender a 'meritorious defense' to the claim for relief."  Yochum, 98 Nev. at 487, 653 P.2d at 1216-17 (citations omitted) (emphasis added).  Finally, "the court must give due consideration to the state's underlying basic policy of resolving cases on their merits whenever possible."  Yochum, 98 Nev. at 487, 653 P.2d at 1217 (emphasis added).  Here, the burden of proof lies with Kahn, who must show "mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect, either singly or in combination ...[108 Nev. 514]  'by a preponderance of the evidence....' "  Britz v. Consolidated Casinos Corp., 87 Nev. at 446, 488 P.2d at 911 (quoting Luz v. Lopes, 55 Cal.2d 54, 10 Cal.Rptr. 161, 166, 358 P.2d 289, 294 (1960))

A. Whether Kahn acted promptly.

Default judgment was entered against Kahn on February 16, 1990. As early as March of 1990, Kahn admitted under oath, while testifying as a witness on behalf of his brother Frank in a separate trial stemming from the same incident, that he was aware that default judgment had been entered against him. NRCP 60(b) provides a maximum time of six months in which a party may file for relief under subsection (1). Despite his knowledge of the default judgment, Kahn did not file to set it aside until nearly six months of its entry.

In Union Petrochemical Corp. v. Scott, 96 Nev. 337, 609 P.2d 323 (1980), we upheld a default judgment against a party who filed an NRCP 60(b) motion within the six-month period. We reasoned that, although Union filed within the deadline provided in NRCP 60(b), it nevertheless failed to act promptly. We concluded: "want of diligence in seeking to set aside a judgment is ground enough for denial of such a motion." Union, 96 Nev. at 339, 609 P.2d at 324 (citing Lentz v. Boles, 84 Nev. 197, 438 P.2d 254 (1968); Hotel Last Frontier v. Frontier Prop., 79 Nev. 150, 380 P.2d 293 (1963)). Here, Kahn admittedly knew the default judgment had been entered against him as early as March of 1990. Kahn did not seek out counsel until late May of 1990, after which he did not move to set aside the default judgment until August 10, 1990. Under the circumstances, we cannot conclude that the district judge abused her discretion in finding that Kahn failed to act promptly.

B. Whether the facts show an absence of intent to delay.

Within ten days of Orme's re-notice of motion for entry of default judgment, Kahn declined to retain attorney Flangas, personally appeared before Judge Thompson at the hearing on January 3, 1990, and subsequently ignored Judge Thompson's admonitions to obtain counsel. In fact, Kahn waited for nearly five months to secure other representation. Furthermore, Kahn failed to file a single motion opposing Orme below. Accordingly, we conclude that there is sufficient evidence to support the district court's determination that Kahn failed to establish the absence of an intent to delay.

C. Whether Kahn lacked knowledge of procedural requirements.

Kahn unquestionably had full notice of the hearing on January 18, 1990. All that was required of Kahn was to either personally appear at the hearing or obtain counsel to appear on his behalf. Kahn also knew that a hearing for default judgment was pending when he chose to terminate his relationship with attorney Flangas on December 20, 1989. Kahn's failure to obtain new representation or otherwise act on his own behalf is inexcusable. As we stated previously in Union:

we are not confronted here with some subtle or technical aspect of procedure, ignorance of which could readily be excused. The requirements of the rule are simple and direct. To condone the actions Union, 96 Nev. at 339, 609 P.2d at 324 (citing Franklin v. Bartsas Realty, Inc., 95 Nev. 559, 598 P.2d 1147 (1979); Central Operating Co. v. Utility Workers of America, 491 F.2d 245 (4th Cir.1974)) (emphasis added). Kahn had sufficient knowledge to act responsibly. We cannot conclude that Kahn failed to respond to set aside the default judgment because he was ignorant of procedural requirements. Accordingly, we hold...

To continue reading

Request your trial
34 cases
  • Landreth v. Malik
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nevada
    • May 12, 2011
    ...668 P.2d 288, 289 (1983), overruled on other grounds by Epstein v. Epstein, 113 Nev. 1401, 1405, 950 P.2d 771, 773 (1997); Kahn v. Orme, 108 Nev. 510, 513, 835 P.2d 790, 792 (1992).Notice requirements for default and default judgment First, we distinguish between the notice requirements for......
  • Landreth v. Malik, 49732.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nevada
    • December 24, 2009
    ...288, 289 (1983), overruled on other grounds by Epstein v. Epstein, 113 Nev. 1401, 1405, 950 P.2d 771, 773 (1997); Kahn v. Orme, 108 Nev. 510, 513, 835 P.2d 790, 792 (1992). Under NRCP 55, a court may enter judgment by default against a party who has failed to defend a civil action. Where a ......
  • Stoecklein v. Johnson Elec., Inc., 23302
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nevada
    • March 24, 1993
    ...district court must consider the state's underlying basic policy of deciding a case on the merits whenever possible. Kahn v. Orme, 108 Nev. 510, 835 P.2d 790, 793 (1992). Whether Stoecklein acted Stoecklein filed his motion for relief from judgment on February 27, 1992, thirty-five days aft......
  • Scrimer v. Dist. Ct.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nevada
    • May 8, 2000
    ...the district court should recognize that "good public policy dictates that cases be adjudicated on their merits." Kahn v. Orme, 108 Nev. 510, 516, 835 P.2d 790, 794 (1992) (citing Hotel Last Frontier v. Frontier Prop., 79 Nev. 150, 155-56, 380 P.2d 293, 295 We specifically disavow and overr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT