Keeley v. Grider

(Sixth Circuit Nov. 3, 2014)

The Sixth Circuit affirms the bankruptcy court’s denial of the adversary proceeding plaintiff’s motion to amend the default judgment she obtained nearly a year earlier. The plaintiff had sought a judgment against the debtor for his liability on a promissory note and a declaration that such debt was nondischargeable. The debtor defaulted, and the plaintiff obtained a default judgment entry by the clerk for the amount owed on the note. The plaintiff then sought to amend that judgment to include language declaring the debt nondischargeable. The court affirms the bankruptcy court’s denial of the motion, noting that Civil Rule 60(a) (through Bankruptcy Rule 9024) is appropriate to correct clerical and similar errors in judgments but should not be used to change substantive rights between the parties. Further, because the plaintiff had sought entry of the default judgment by the clerk, the nondischargeability determination could not have been included in the judgment, as the court must enter a default judgment if anything more than an award for a sum certain is sought. Opinion below.

2014-11-03 – keeley v grider