Second Wind Boat Works, LLC appeals pro se a circuit court order denying its motion to reopen a default judgment entered against it for failure to appear at a scheduling conference in Richard Wolff's small claims action against Second Wind. After finding that Second Wind showed that its failure to appear was the result of excusable neglect, and that default judgment was too harsh a sanction in this case, it nonetheless entered an order denying the motion to reopen after Second Wind failed to comply with certain sanctions imposed by the court. In effect, the default judgment in this case resulted not from Second Wind's failure to appear, but from its failure to comply with certain sanctions.
On appeal, Second Wind appears to argue that the circuit court erroneously exercised its discretion in denying its motion to reopen the default judgment because the court lacked the authority to impose the particular sanctions specified by the court. We conclude that the trial court erroneously exercised its discretion by failing to explain why the ultimate sanction of dismissal was appropriate under the facts of this case. Further, we agree with Second Wind that, with regard to three of the ordered sanctions, the court lacked the authority to impose these sanctions or the sanctions were unsupported by the record. Accordingly, we vacate the order denying the motion to reopen the default judgment, and direct the court to enter an order to reopen consistent with its finding of excusable neglect. On remand, the court may, within the proper exercise of its discretion, order Second Wind to pay costs for mileage, docketing fees and postage for failure to appear at the scheduling conference. This opinion will not be published.
2008AP1954 Wolff v. Second Wind Boat Works, et al.
Dist IV, Jefferson County, Hue, J., Higginbotham, J.
Attorneys: For Appellant: Second Wind Boat Works, LLC, pro se; Griswold, Greg, pro se; Wierzbicki, Laura, pro se; For Respondent: Levi, Thomas J., Watertown