DECISION ON MOTION
ALLEN HUNTER ACTIVE RETIRED JUSTICE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT
Pending before the court is Defendant Bertram Magnus'
Motion To Set Aside Default and Default Judgment brought
pursuant to M.R.Civ. P. 55(c). For the reasons set forth
herein, the court denies this motion.
court conducted a hearing of this matter on January 31, 2017.
The Plaintiff appeared through counsel, Richard L. Currier
Esq. The Defendant Bertram Magnus appeared representing
himself. The Defendant Danielle L'Heureux did not appear.
Although both parties presented argument, neither presented
any evidence. The court has taken judicial notice of the
contents of the file. The file reflects that on or about
February 22, 2014 the Defendants entered into a retail
installment sales contract pursuant to which they purchased a
used 2011 Chevrolet Aveo motor vehicle from Griffeth Ford
Lincoln, a motor vehicle dealership located in Caribou,
Maine. The Plaintiff loaned the purchase price to the
Defendants, each of whom contracted to repay the amount of
the loan in its entirety. There is no dispute that the
Plaintiff is the holder in due course of the Consumer Credit
Contract upon which this action is based. There is also no
dispute that the Defendants failed to make the required
payments and were in default of their agreement at the time
the Plaintiff commenced this action. There is no dispute that
the Plaintiff provided to the Defendants a Notice of Default
and a Notice of Right to Cure. Finally, there is no dispute
that the Defendants did not cure their default. The Plaintiff
then repossessed the vehicle and sold it at a public sale for
$100. The resulting deficiency on the contract was $7012.57.
September 14, 2016, the Plaintiff served the Defendant
Bertram Magnus with a copy of the complaint and summons
underlying this action. On September 22, 2016, the Plaintiff
served the Defendant Danielle LTIeureux with a copy of the
complaint and summons. The complaint demanded judgment
against the Defendants, jointly and severally in the amount
of the deficiency plus interest and costs.
summons clearly directed each defendant to file their answer
with the Superior Court located at 144 Sweden Street in
Caribou, Maine within 20 days of service upon them. The
summons also clearly warned that a failure to file the
required answer could result in the entry of a default
judgment against them.
defendant filed an answer with the Superior Court. As appears
from the "affidavit' of Richard L. Rhoda, Esq., the
Defendant Magnus went to his law office after being served
with the summons and complaint. Although Attorney Rhoda has
not appeared as counsel for the Defendant, his office
secretary apparently assisted the Defendant with the
preparation of an answer and provided a transmittal letter
and envelope addressed to the Houlton District Court and not
the Aroostook County Superior Court as required by the
summons. Additionally, it appears that a copy of that
responsive pleading was mistakenly addressed to Attorney
Richard L. Rhoda rather than Plaintiffs attorney Richard L.
Currier. Consequently, neither the Superior Court nor
Attorney Currier received the Defendant's response. On
October 27, 2016, the Plaintiff requested that the Defendants
be defaulted and that a default judgment be entered against
each. The clerk entered the defaults and the default
judgments against the defendants .The amount of the default
judgment was $7012.57 plus interest and costs, 
pending motion is governed by the provisions of M.R.Civ.P. 55
(c) and applicable case law. The rule provides that "For
good cause shown the court may set aside an entry of default
and, if a judgment by default has been entered may likewise
set it aside in accordance with Rule 60(b)." The Law
Court has indicated that
"To establish good cause, a party must show a good
excuse for his or her untimeliness and a meritorious defense.
The good excuse and the meritorious defense requirements are
"two distinct components", both of which must be
satisfied in order to prevail on a Rule 55(c) motion.
Levine v. KeyBank Nat'l Ass'n. 2004
ME 131, ¶20, 861 A.2d 678, 684 (internal citations
As indicated above, neither party submitted any evidence and
the court has before it, only the submissions found within
the file. As the moving party, the Defendant has the burden
of proof and must show both a good excuse for not properly
filing his answer and in addition, must demonstrate a
meritorious defense. For argument's sake and without
making any specific finding that Defendant Magnus'
inadvertent filing of his response in the wrong court
constitutes a "good excuse", the court will
nonetheless consider this honest mistake to be a "good
excuse" in the absence of any objection from the
Plaintiff. This still leaves the question of whether the
Defendant has demonstrated a meritorious defense.
Defendant has indicated that he became involved in the
underlying transaction as an act of charity towards the
Defendant L'Heureux and that it was she who actually
enjoyed the use of the vehicle until it was repossessed.
While the court may be sympathetic to Defendant Magnus'
circumstances, the fact remains that the dealer sold the car
and the Plaintiff financed the sale upon the strength of two
promises of repayment, one by Defendant L'Heureux and the
other by the Defendant Magnus. No one has made the payments
to which the Plaintiff was clearly entitled. Notwithstanding
the Defendant's charitable inclinations towards Ms.
L'Heureux, the court's ruling cannot be governed by
Defendant also points to the fact that the purchase price of
the car in February of 2014 was $11, 969.90 and it was sold
on June 3, 2016 for $100. The Defendant argues that such a
large disparity in values indicates that the vehicle was not
sold in a "commercially reasonable manner" as
required. The Defendant also argues that "If this Court
does not vacate the default it will "work(s) a plain and
unmistakable injustice against the Defendant. Cutillo v.
Gerstel, 477 A.2d750, 752(Me 1984),
does have the authority to grant relief, including relief
from a default judgment (See Roussel v. Ashby, 2015
ME 43, ¶ 12, 114 A.3d 670, 674) in circumstances where a
denial of relief would work a plain and unmistakable
injustice. A plain and unmistakable injustice is one
that is instantly visible without argument.
Sullivan v. Rockwood, 20 ...