Klaus v. Shelby

Decision Date09 November 1999
Citation4 S.W.3d 635
Parties(Mo.App. E.D. 1999) . Janice Klaus and Matthew Klaus, Plaintiffs/Appellants, v. James Shelby, Defendant/Respondent. Case Number: ED75469 Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District Handdown Date:
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Appeal From: Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Hon. Gary P. Kramer

Counsel for Appellant: Michael D. Stokes

Counsel for Respondent: Thomas J. Noonan and Andrew D. Ryan

Opinion Summary: Plaintiffs Janice Klaus and Matthew Klaus appeal from the trial court's granting of a motion to set aside a $4,500 default judgment for Matthew Klaus and a $150,000 default judgment for Janice Klaus against Defendant James Shelby.

DISMISSED.

Division Two holds: A motion to set aside a default judgment is an authorized after-trial motion, which extends the trial court's control over the default judgment to ninety days from the day the motion is filed. The trial court granted the motion to set aside the default judgment within the ninety-day period in which the trial court maintained control over the judgment, and therefore, no appealable final judgment exists.

Opinion Author: Robert G. Dowd, Jr., Judge

Opinion Vote: DISMISSED. Crane, P.J., and Sullivan, J., concur.

Opinion:

Plaintiffs, Janice Klaus and Matthew Klaus, appeal from the trial court's granting of a motion to set aside a $4,500 default judgment for Matthew Klaus and a $150,000 default judgment for Janice Klaus both against Defendant, James Shelby. Plaintiffs, in their sole point on appeal, argue the trial court erred in granting Defendant's motion to set aside the default judgment because Defendant failed to show good cause for his failure to timely answer or reply to Plaintiffs' petition as required by Rule 74.05(d). We dismiss the appeal.

On May 27, 1998, Plaintiffs sued Defendant for injuries they sustained in a car accident. Defendant was served with process on June 8, 1998, but failed to appear at the scheduled hearing. On October 13, 1998, a default judgment was entered against the Defendant. Defendant retained counsel on October 23, 1998, and moved to set aside the default judgment. On October 23, 1998, the trial court granted Defendant's motion to set aside the default judgment in a notation at the bottom of the motion without a hearing.

On December 7, 1998, Plaintiffs moved to set aside the order setting aside the default judgment. The motion was heard on December 7, 1998. The trial court set aside the October order that set aside the default judgment and a second time granted Defendant's motion to set aside the default judgment in a Memorandum.1 The Memorandum was filed on December 10, 1998. Plaintiffs appeal the trial court's granting of Defendant's motion to set aside the default judgment.

Before considering Plaintiffs' allegation of error, we address a point Defendant raises in his brief and a threshold issue of whether this court has jurisdiction to consider the merits of this appeal. The jurisdictional issue is whether the trial court lost control over the judgment at the time of the granting of Defendant's motion. We find a motion to set aside a default judgment is an authorized after trial motion which extends the trial court's control over the default judgment to ninety days from the day the motion is filed. The trial court granted the motion to set aside the default judgment within the ninety-day period in which the trial court maintained control over the judgment, and therefore, no appealable final judgment exists.

The appellate court has jurisdiction only over final judgments. McKean v. St. Louis County, 936 S.W.2d 184, 185 (Mo. App. E.D. 1996); Section 512.020, RSMo 1994. Rule 75.01 provides that "[t]he trial court retains control over judgments during the thirty-day period after entry of judgment...." Rule 75.01. At the expiration of this thirty-day period, the judgment becomes final. Kueper v. Murphy Distributing, 834 S.W.2d 875, 878 (Mo. App. E.D. 1992). "A default judgment set aside within 30 days is not a final judgment. During this 30-day period a default judgment is 'within the breast of the court' and not yet final. Setting it aside is a discretionary act from which no appeal lies." Obermann v. Obermann, 701 S.W.2d 162, 164 (Mo. App. E.D. 1985). When a trial court sets aside a default judgment after the default judgment has become final, the trial court's order setting aside the default judgment is immediately appealable. Continental Basketball Ass'n v. Harrisburg Professional Sports Inc., 947 S.W.2d 471, 473 (Mo. App. E.D. 1997) (citing Gantz v. Director of Revenue, State of Missouri, 921 S.W.2d 156, 157 (Mo.App. E.D. 1996)).

However, Rule 78.06 and Rule 81.05 allow for the extension of the trial court's control over a judgment from thirty days to ninety days after a motion is filed when it is an "authorized after trial motion." During this ninety-day period, the trial court has the same control over the judgment as under Rule 75.01. Steiferman v. K-Mart Corp., 746 S.W.2d 145, 147 (Mo. App. W.D. 1988). At the end of the ninety-day period, any motion not ruled upon is automatically denied. Rule 78.06 and Rule 81.05.

In 1993, the Missouri Supreme Court in Taylor v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 854 S.W.2d 390 (Mo. 1993), quoted with approval its holding in In re Franz' Estate, 221 S.W.2d 739, 740 (Mo. 1949) that "a motion to set aside a default judgment 'was nothing more than a motion asking the trial court to reconsider its ruling and to set aside its dismissal order. It was, in fact, simply a motion for rehearing or new trial.'" Id. (quoting In re Franz' Estate, 221 S.W.2d at 740) (emphasis added). A motion for new trial is clearly a motion that extends the trial court's control to ninety days and an authorized after trial motion is given the same treatment. Rule 81.05. Following this Supreme Court decision, we find that a motion to set aside a default judgment is an "authorized after trial motion" which extends the trial court's control over the judgment from thirty days to ninety days. Similarly, the Western District in Moore v. Baker, 982 S.W.2d 286, 288 (Mo. App. W.D. 1998), found that a motion to reconsider the setting aside of a default judgment was treated as a motion for new trial because it involved a judicial examination of the issues. Id. (citing Taylor 854 S.W.2d at 392).2

We find that a motion to set aside a default judgment extends the trial court's control to ninety days. In practice this means when a motion to set aside a default judgment is filed within thirty days of the default judgment, the trial court's control extends to ninety days. A ruling made by a trial court granting a motion to set aside a default judgment within the ninety-day period of control is interlocutory in nature and is not immediately appealable and a trial on the merits may follow.

The court in Steiferman, 746 S.W.2d 145, explains the procedure when an "authorized after trial motion" is filed within thirty days of the default judgment. "Such filing extends the jurisdiction of the court and the judgment is not final until the expiration of ninety days after the filing of such motion." Id. (citing Rules 81.05 and 78.04.) "During this 90-day period, the court retains the same power under Rule 75.01 and may vacate, reopen, correct, amend or modify the judgment." Id. at 147. If a court acts to set aside the judgment within the period in which the trial court maintains control, the default judgment never becomes final. Id. The court in O'Mara v. Gingrich, 424 S.W.2d 92 (Mo. App. 1968) explains why the judgment does not become final. "It cannot be controverted that an order vacating a default judgment within 30 days after rendition does not...

To continue reading

Request your trial
20 cases
  • McElroy v. Eagle Star Group, Inc.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • January 25, 2005
    ...day the motion is filed." Popular Leasing USA, Inc. v. Universal Art Corp., 57 S.W.3d 875, 877 (Mo.App. E.D.2001); Klaus v. Shelby, 4 S.W.3d 635, 637 (Mo.App. E.D.1999). For this reason, "[a]n appeal will not lie from an order setting aside a default judgment within thirty days after entry ......
  • In re Marriage of Coonts, 27052.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • May 5, 2006
    ...of Rule 74.05(d) by the Eastern and Western Districts In late 1999 the Eastern District of our Court decided Klaus v. Shelby, 4 S.W.3d 635 (Mo.App. E.D.1999) (Klaus I).10 In this case, plaintiffs obtained a default judgment against the defendant on October 13, 1998. Id. at 636 . Ten days l......
  • State ex rel. Hawley v. Pilot Travel Ctrs., LLC
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • August 21, 2018
    ...See, e.g., Barr v. Sanders , 206 S.W.3d 393 (Mo. App. 2006) ; Puisis v. Puisis , 90 S.W.3d 169 (Mo. App. 2002) ; Klaus v. Shelby , 4 S.W.3d 635 (Mo. App. 1999) ; Steiferman v. K-Mart Corp. , 746 S.W.2d 145 (Mo. App. ...
  • Spino v. Bhakta
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • November 1, 2005
    ...If not ruled upon within 90 days of filing the motion, the motion is deemed denied and the judgment becomes final. Klaus v. Shelby, 4 S.W.3d 635, 637 (Mo.App.1999); Rule 78.06. After the judgment becomes final on the 90th day, notice of appeal must be filed within ten days or it is untimely......
  • 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