Airline gets default judgment vacated on appeal

Bird v. United Airlines, Inc. (N.J. App. Oct. 12, 2006).  The plaintiff had sued the airline for failure to honor certain companion passes.  The airline had requested that the trial be adjourned so that its counsel could appear.  Without notifying the airline, the court denied the adjournment request.  The court then entered a default judgment against the airline and later denied the airline’s motion to vacate the default judgment.

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court’s refusal to vacate the default judgment.  The appeals court reasoned that the airline had paid attention to the case by promptly requesting the adjournment and, later, by promptly moving to vacate the default judgment.  The court also noted that the airline appeared to have meritorious defenses and that cases should be decided “on the merits rather than by procedural snafu.”

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