Written by attorney Christopher Saccardi

Vacating a Default Judgment in a Summary Process Eviction in Massachusetts

When a party misses a court date, they run the risk that the court may rule for the other side by default. In the case of a tenant who misses their hearing date for a summary process eviction, for example, a default judgment against the tenant would likely give the landlord possession of the premises and some amount of damages. After a default has been entered against a party, that party has the option of filing a Motion to Vacate the default, which asks a judge to remove the default and allow the original case to proceed. While there is certainly no guarantee that such a motion will be successful, in order to prevail, the moving party (the person seeking to have the default removed) will need to give the court a good reason why they missed the original court date and show that they have a defense to the eviction. It is helpful to bring to court any evidence that might support your reason for missing your original court date such as a doctor's note. If the motion is granted, the case resumes, and it is likely that the parties will then be asked to present their evidence to the court that very same day.

Note that when a motion to remove a default is scheduled to be heard, the parties can attempt to mediate the case rather than going in front of a judge. If this is unsuccessful, the parties will always have the chance to go before the judge afterwards.

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