Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Randy R. Ice Ice Law Offices
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES Mark S. Shearer Kevin M. McDermott,
BEFORE: Keough, J., Laster Mays, P.J., and Celebrezze, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, J.
This cause came to be heard upon the accelerated calendar
pursuant to App.R. 11.1 and Loc.R. 11.1. The purpose of an
accelerated appeal is to allow the appellate court to render
a brief and conclusory opinion. Crawford v. Eastland
Shopping Mall Assn., 11 Ohio App.3d 158, 463 N.E.2d 655
(10th Dist.1983); App.R. 11.1(E).
Defendants-appellants, Ajay Gupta, M.D. ("Dr.
Gupta"), Chhaya Patel, M.D. ("Dr. Patel"), Dr.
Gupta, Eye M.D., L.L.C. ("Gupta L.L.C."), and
Chhaya Patel M.D., L.L.C. ("Patel, L.L.C")
(collectively "appellants" or
"defendants"), appeal from the trial court's
decision denying their Civ.R. 60(B) motion to vacate the
judgments entered on August 15, 2016 and September 20, 2016.
For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's
In April 2016, plaintiff-appellee, Augusto Estrella
("Estrella"), filed a complaint against the
appellants for unpaid wages. Estrella alleged that the
appellants were joint employers who failed to pay him for
work performed in January and February 2016. Service was
perfected on the appellants and when they failed to respond,
Estella moved for default judgment. The hearing on
Estrella's motion was scheduled for July 14, 2016. After
receiving notice of the default hearing, Dr. Gupta contacted
Estrella's counsel. As a result of the conversation, the
default hearing was continued.
On August 4, 2016, a default hearing was held and only Dr.
Gupta appeared. He was prepared to represent all the
defendants. However, the trial court advised Dr. Gupta that
he could only represent himself, and not Dr. Patel (Dr.
Gupta's wife), and the other L.L.C. defendants. The trial
court granted Dr. Gupta until August 19, 2016 to file an
answer, but entered default judgment against the other
defendants - Dr. Patel, Gupta, L.L.C., and Patel, L.L.C. The
entry granting default was filed on August 15, 2016. No
direct appeal was filed.
On August 18, 2016, Estrella's counsel presented the
trial court with an agreed judgment entry signed by Drs.
Gupta and Patel, and by both as representatives of their
respective companies. The parties agreed that they would be
jointly and severally liable to Estrella in the amount of $5,
000. However, the trial court refused to accept the agreed
judgment entry as against all of the defendants because it
had previously entered a default judgment against those
defaulting defendants in the amount of $6, 986.90, including
costs and interest. The court, however, accepted the agreed
entry with respect to Dr. Gupta; it was filed on September
20, 2016. No direct appeal was taken.
On November 11, 2016, Estrella filed a garnishment notice
against Dr. Patel. Her wages were subsequently garnished from
her employer, Metro Health System.
On June 2, 2017, the appellants filed a Civ.R. 60(B) motion
to vacate the default judgment entered on August 15, 2016,
and the agreed entry dated September 20, 2016. The appellants
sought to vacate both judgment entries because they
"were entered when [appellants] were not represented and
did not understand the consequences of their inaction;
because the judgments would never have been entered had the
true facts been timely pleaded; and because the judgments
have severely impacted their medical practices." The
trial court denied the motion, finding that the appellants
failed to meet their burden necessary to support relief
pursuant to Civ.R. 60(B).
Appellants timely appeal, contending in their sole assignment
of error that the trial court erred and abused its discretion
by denying their Civ.R. 60(B) motion to vacate the default
Although appellants' Civ.R. 60(B) motion sought to vacate
both the August 15, 2016 default judgment and the September
20, 2016 agreed judgment, the appeal only challenges the
trial court's decision denying the Civ.R. 60(B) motion as
it pertains to the August 15, 2016 default judgment.
Accordingly, our decision will only address the trial
court's decision to deny the Civ.R. 60(B) ...