Amalgamated Bank v. Helmsley-Spear Inc.
NEW YORK COUNTY
Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich
Non-party Schneider moved to intervene in the instant action, and to vacate the default judgment against Helmsely-Spear. Amalgamated Bank sought to recover damages from an allegedly negligent appraisal a Helmsley employee issued to it in 2006 for a Yonkers office building. The court granted the bank's motion for a default judgment against Helmsley for its failure to answer or appear. Schneider sold her shares in Helmsley to HSI Holdings, an entity controlled by Swig, who controlled Helmsley since commencement of the action, and who allegedly decided to permit it to default. Movants sought to intervene on Helmsley's behalf and vacate the default alleging they were the real parties in interest as they ultimately may be held liable for defendants' actions, none of which occurred due to movants' fault. Bank argued the motion was untimely as movants waited over a year to move after becoming aware of the default judgment. The court stated the potentially binding nature of the judgment on the proposed intervenor was the most heavily weighted factor in deciding to permit intervention, noting movants also established they were capable of putting forth a meritorious defense without delaying the trial. Thus, intervention was granted, and the default judgment vacated.