This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Midland Credit Management, Inc.,
Filed May 25, 2004
Washington County District Court
File Nos. C6-02-640
Derrick N. Weber, Jeffrey J. Cohen, Messerli & Kramer, P.A., 3033 Campus Drive, Suite 250, Plymouth, MN 55441 (for appellant)
Thomas J. Lyons Sr., Thomas J. Lyons & Associates, 342 East County Road D, Little Canada, MN 55117; and
Thomas J. Lyons Jr., John H. Goolsby, Consumer Justice Center, P.A., 342 East County Road D, Little Canada, MN 55117 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Forsberg, Judge.*
On appeal from an order granting a motion to vacate a default judgment, appellant argues that: (1) the district court erred in ruling that a letter respondent sent constituted an “answer;” (2) respondent’s motion to vacate, brought more than a year after default judgment was entered, was not timely; and (3) the court abused its discretion in vacating the default judgment where respondent had not provided a meritorious defense. We affirm.
On December 28, 2001, appellant Midland Credit Management, Inc., served respondent John Resler with a summons and complaint in Washington County. The complaint alleged that respondent owed appellant a total of $4,048.90 including $1,793.65 as the principal amount, and $2,255.25 in accrued interest. In a letter from respondent to appellant dated January 13, 2002, respondent stated:
On January 23, 2002, appellant executed and filed an Affidavit of No Answer, Identification, Non-Military Status, Amount Due and Costs and Disbursements, which stated that respondent had not answered or otherwise defended the action. On February 8, 2002, the district court entered a default judgment against respondent in the amount of $4,492.27. This amount constituted $4,126.77 in principal and prejudgment interest plus $365.50 in costs and disbursements. That same day, a copy of the judgment was mailed to each party at their last known residence.
In July 2002, respondent, now represented by counsel, commenced a lawsuit against appellant’s attorneys’ law firm Messerli & Kramer, P.A., and attorneys Derrick N. Weber, Jeffrey J. Cohen, and Jefferson C. Pappas, in federal district court for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The defendants brought a motion to dismiss. The federal court denied in part, and granted in part, the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The federal court agreed to entertain respondent’s claims based on the alleged defective garnishment notice. But the federal court stated that in order to challenge the alleged deceitful procedure by which the judgment was obtained, respondent must file a motion to vacate the judgment in state court.
On April 17, 2003, respondent filed a motion in Washington County District Court to have the February 8, 2002 judgment vacated. On May 7, 2003, respondent filed an amended motion to vacate the judgment. Respondent argued that appellant failed to fully and accurately inform the court that respondent had responded to appellant’s pleadings. Respondent also asserted that appellant failed to accurately report the principal balance respondent owed to appellant. Respondent argued that he paid $448.41 toward the principal, but that it was, unknown to him, allocated toward attorney fees. Respondent also argued that appellant inaccurately told the district court that the case involved “reasonable attorney’s fees of $.00.”
On August 1, 2003, the district court granted respondent’s motion and ordered the judgment vacated. The court found that respondent answered appellant’s pleadings and that the default judgment was “partially based” on the representation that respondent failed to answer. The district court also disregarded appellant’s argument that respondent’s motion to vacate was untimely because it was filed more than one year after the default judgment was entered. The court stated:
Furthermore, Plaintiff’s claim of one year and three months past judgment issuance does not hold up in this Court. Defendant, John Resler, first brought his claim to Federal District Court on July 31, 2002. A mere four months following the entry of judgment. Federal Court found the proper venue was in State Court where the judgment was entered.
The district court’s judgment was entered on August 8, 2003. This appeal follows.
Under Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 a court may relieve a party of a final judgment on the basis of mistake, inadvertence, surprise, excusable neglect, or “any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.” Onreview, this court views the record in the light most favorable to the district court’s decision. Bentonize, Inc. v. Green, 431 N.W.2d 579, 582 (Minn. App. 1988). Absent a clear abuse of discretion, this court upholds the district court’s decision. Lund v. Pan Am. Machine Sales, 405 N.W.2d 550, 552 (Minn. App. 1987).
A party seeking relief under rule 60.02 must demonstrate:
(1) a reasonable case on the merits, (2) a reasonable excuse for the failure to act, (3) that it acted with due diligence after notice of the entry of judgment, and (4) that there would be no substantial prejudice to the opposing party if the motion to vacate is granted.
On motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or the party’s legal representatives from a final judgment (other than a marriage dissolution decree), order, or proceeding and may order a new trial or grant such other relief as may be just for the following reasons:
(a) Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
. . .
(c) Fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or
extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party;
. . .
(f) Any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. Art. VI, § 10.
 The date of service for appellant’s summons and complaint was December 28, 2001. Respondent’s letter was dated January 13, 2002, but respondent’s affidavit stated that “on or about January 14, 2002, [he] answered [appellant’s] complaint.” Respondent sent his letter within the 20-day deadline.