Joining the majority of other California courts of appeal to address the issue, the court in Las Vegas Land & Development Co. v. Wilkie Way LLC, No. B238921 (Sept. 19, 2013), held that the mandatory provision to set aside default judgments under California Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b) does not apply to summary judgments. The provision requires the court to vacate a “default” or “default judgment or dismissal” entered against a party when the party’s counsel swears in an affidavit that the default or dismissal was “caused by the attorney’s mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect.” The court concluded that the statute should be narrowly construed to apply only to proceedings wherein the defendant fails to answer the complaint. To extend the statute’s protection to defendants who fail to oppose summary judgment, as one court of appeal has done, goes beyond what the Legislature intended, according to this court.
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