Pleading, Discovery, and Pretrial Motion Practice (excluding Motions in Limine)

Default Judgment, Motion to Set Aside

Except as indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion.

Opinions of the Tennessee Supreme Court


Tennessee Farmers Mutual Ins. Co. v. DeBruce, No. E2017-02078-SC-R11-CV, 586 S.W.3d 901, 905 (Tenn. 2019).

We review the trial court’s ruling denying Wright’s Rule 60.02 motion to set aside the default judgment under an abuse of discretion standard. Henderson v. SAIA, Inc., 318 S.W.3d 328, 335 (Tenn. 2010); Rogers v. Estate of Russell, 50 S.W.3d 441, 444 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001).

“A trial court abuses its discretion when it causes an injustice by applying an incorrect legal standard, reaching an illogical decision, or by resolving the case ‘on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence.’ ” Henderson, 318 S.W.3d at 335 (quoting Lee Med., Inc. v. Beecher, 312 S.W.3d 515, 524 (Tenn. 2010)). We presume that the trial court’s discretionary decision is correct, and we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court’s decision. Id. (quoting Overstreet v. Shoney’s, Inc., 4 S.W.3d 694, 709 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1999) and citing Keisling v. Keisling, 196 S.W.3d 703, 726 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2005)).

Opinions of the Tennessee Court of Appeals

Higgins v. McCord,  No. M2021-00789-COA-R3-CV, p. 5 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 1, 2022).

In general, we review a trial court’s ruling on a request for relief from a final judgment under Rule 60.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure pursuant to the abuse of discretion standard. Discover Bank v. Morgan, 363 S.W.3d 479, 487 (Tenn. 2012) (citing Henry v. Goins, 104 S.W.3d 475, 479 (Tenn. 2003)). Likewise, this court has previously explained that “[w]e review a trial court’s denial of a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 59.04 motion to alter or amend a judgment for abuse of discretion.” Robinson v. Currey, 153 S.W.3d 32, 38 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2004) (quoting Chambliss v. Stohler, 124 S.W.3d 116, 120 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2003)). “An abuse of discretion occurs when a court strays beyond the applicable legal standards or when it fails to properly consider the factors customarily used to guide the particular discretionary decision.” Lee Medical Inc. v. Beecher, 312 S.W.3d 515, 524 (Tenn. 2010). Thus, a court abuses its discretion “when it ‘applie[s] an incorrect legal standard, or reache[s] a decision which is against logic or reasoning that cause[s] an injustice to the party complaining.’” Eldridge v. Eldridge, 42 S.W.3d 82, 85 (Tenn. 2001) (alterations in original) (quoting State v. Shirley, 6 S.W.3d 243, 247 (Tenn. 1999)). “The abuse of discretion standard does not permit the appellate court to substitute its judgment for that of the trial court.” Id.


Christy v. Christy, No. M2021-00192-COA-R3-CV, p. 7 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 30, 2022).

[W]e review a court’s decision to enter a default judgment and its decision as to whether to set aside a default judgment under an abuse of discretion standard. Patterson v. SunTrust Bank, 328 S.W.3d 505, 509 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2010). When applying the abuse of discretion standard to a trial court’s decisions involving default judgments, this Court has explained the analysis as follows:

Under the abuse of discretion standard, a trial court’s ruling will be upheld so long as reasonable minds can disagree as to the propriety of the decision made. A trial court abuses its discretion only when it applies an incorrect legal standard, or reaches a decision which is against logic or reasoning or that causes an injustice to the party complaining. In the interests of justice, the courts have expressed a clear preference for a trial on the merits. Motions to set aside default judgments are not viewed with the same strictness that motions to set aside judgments after a hearing on the merits are viewed. Rather, such motions are construed liberally in favor of granting the relief requested. If there is reasonable doubt as to whether to set aside a default judgment upon proper application, a court should exercise its discretion in favor of granting relief from the judgment.

Decker v. Nance, No. E2005-2248-COA-R3-CV, 2006 WL 1132048, at *2 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 28, 2006) (internal citations omitted).


Estate of Martha Harrison Bane v. Bane, No. E2020-00978-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 23, 2022).

A trial court’s decision on a motion to set aside a final judgment is ordinarily reviewed for an abuse of discretion. In re Beckwith Church of Christ, No. M2015-00085- COA-R3-CV, 2016 WL 5385853, at *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 23, 2016) (citing Discover Bank v. Morgan, 363 S.W.3d 479, 487 (Tenn. 2012)). Our Supreme Court has held, however, that when the basis of the motion is that the judgment is void, review is de novo with no presumption of correctness. Turner v. Turner, 473 S.W.3d 257, 269 (Tenn. 2015); see also Hussey v. Woods, 538 S.W.3d 476, 483 (Tenn. 2017).


Grading Papers - Civil Copyright © 2023 by BirdDog Law, LLC (No copyright claimed as to government works).. All Rights Reserved.