Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler
APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No.
Christopher Wiest, Suite for appellee
& Associates, Co., L.P.A., Marcelle Rose Anthony, for
1} Appellants, Steve and Aaron Singer, appeal a
decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas denying
their motion for relief from a default judgment granted to
appellee, Middletown App. Ltd. ("MAL").
2} Steve and Aaron are father and son. Aaron agreed
to purchase a mobile home located on MAL property in
Middletown, Ohio, and asked his father for help in moving it.
When the Singers arrived in Ohio to relocate the mobile home,
MAL employees blocked the removal because they claimed the
mobile home's owner owed the company back rent. The
Singers paid $500 to the MAL employees to address the
back-rent, but the employees continued to deny removal until
the Singers called police. Subsequent to the police being
called, MAL employees allowed the Singers to take the mobile
3} A few months later, Steve received a complaint
from MAL alleging trespass and property damage. MAL requested
$10, 000 in initial property damage and moved for treble
damages, punitive damages, and a permanent injunction. MAL
alleged that Aaron and Steve trespassed when they came to
remove the mobile home because 10 years previously, it had
sent a letter to Steve informing him that he was not
permitted on MAL property.
4} While Steve never denied he received service of
the complaint, Aaron claimed he was never served. Even so,
Steve informed Aaron of the suit, and Aaron averred that he
contacted the court regarding the suit. A status conference
was set for July 23, 2018, which Steve and Aaron averred they
were going to attend despite their difficulty in obtaining
legal counsel in Ohio.
5} Prior to the status conference, on July 10, 2018,
MAL moved for default judgment because Steve and Aaron had
not filed an answer. The trial court granted the default
judgment six days later on July 16, 2018, awarding MAL $86,
800. These damages included $10, 000 in property damages
trebled to $30, 000 according to R.C. 2307.61, punitive
damages of $50, 000, and attorney fees of $6, 800. Steve and
Aaron employed Ohio counsel and filed a motion for relief
from judgment according to Civ.R. 60(B). Within the motion,
Aaron claimed that he never received service, and together,
he and Steve claimed excusable neglect and a meritorious
6} The trial court denied the motion without first
holding an evidentiary hearing. Within the trial court's
denial, it found that service was proper on Aaron and that
the Singers failed to demonstrate excusable neglect or a
meritorious defense. The Singers now appeal the trial
court's decision, raising two assignments of error.
7} Assignment of Error No. 1:
8} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED DENYING APPELLANS [SIC]
9} The Singers argue in their first assignment of
error that the trial court erred by denying their motion for
relief from default judgment.
10} Civ.R. 60(B) provides that the trial court may
relieve a party from a final judgment, order, or ...