Grill and Gise Victorious in Ruling Reaffirming that Corporations Cannot Appear Pro Se

August 20, 2019 | Commercial Litigation

In a decision issued recently by Justice McCormack of the Nassau County Supreme Court, David M. Grill and David Gise obtained a default judgment against a defendant corporation where the defendant’s principal claimed the default should be excused because she was unaware that a corporation cannot appear pro se.

The corporation’s owner had tried and failed to electronically file an answer to the Complaint without an attorney, and then failed to act for an additional six weeks. Rivkin Radler moved for a default judgment, and only then did the defendant corporation retain an attorney.

The defendant asserted that it had a reasonable excuse for failing to timely respond to the complaint because it did attempt to appear in the action in a timely manner pro se. The defendant corporation further contended that it was unaware that New York State law precludes a corporation from appearing pro se, and that once it realized that, it retained counsel. The defendant sought permission to answer the complaint and requested that the Court allow the litigation to proceed on the merits.

Judge McCormack, citing an Appellate Division case highlighted by Rivkin Radler, held that a corporation’s failed attempt to appear pro se did not constitute a reasonable excuse for failing to timely appear in a litigation.

View Decision

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