Articles Posted in Delaware Court of Chancery

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Plaintiff brought this action opposing the use of portions of a former industrial park in the City of Lewes, now owned by the state. This action involved a lease of a portion of that property to the City and a sublease from Lewes to a non-profit that maintained a dog park on the property. At a regularly scheduled city council meeting, the Lewes City Council voted to approve an amendment to the sublease to the non-profit, which added an access road to the sublease. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged numerous violations of the Delaware Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Court of Chancery granted the motion to dismiss of the Mayor, the City Council, and the City, holding that a violation of FOIA did not occur here. View "Lechliter v. Becker" on Justia Law

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Charles and Melissa Dalton obtained a loan from Household Finance Corporation II that was secured by a mortgage on their property. The Daltons received a trial period plan pursuant to a Trial Period Plan Agreement. The Daltons’ loan was later sold to LSF9 Master Participation Trust, and the servicing of the Daltons’ loan was transferred to Caliber Home Loans, Inc. The Daltons filed this action against LSF9 and Caliber alleging, inter alia, breach of the Trial Period Plan Agreement and seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining LSF9 and Caliber from terminating the Daltons’ loan modification. The Court of Chancery dismissed all claims against LSF9 and Caliber, holding (1) LSF9 and Caliber were not parties nor successors in interest to the Trial Period Plan Agreement; (2) LSF9 and Caliber were not parties to the consent orders between Household Finance and the United States Department of the Treasury; (3) the Daltons failed to state a claim for unjust enrichment; and (4) the Daltons failed to allege a reasonable probability of success on the merits or imminent threat of irreparable injury. View "Dalton v. Household Finance Corp., II" on Justia Law

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Before Russell Banks died, Russell and his brother, David Banks, owned together fifteen parcels of real estate in Sussex County, Delaware. The granting language of the deed to each parcel stated that the property was conveyed to the brothers as “joint tenants with right of survivorship.” David asserted that this language granted joint tenancies with right of survivorship (WROS) and that the properties passed to him in full upon Russell’s death. Mackie Banks, the executrix of Russell’s estate, filed an inventory for Russell’s estate asserting that the properties were conveyed to the brothers as tenants in common and that the Estate held a fifty percent ownership interest in the properties. David filed a petition to quiet title on the properties. The Court of Chancery granted David’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, holding that the language conveying the property as “joint tenants with right of survivorship” was sufficient to create a joint tenancy WROS and not a tenancy in common. View "Banks v. Banks" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Cecil W. Scott, executed two deeds (the 1996 Deeds) conveying two real properties he owned to his brother Roland fourteen years prior to being adjudicated a disabled person. Subsequently, one of Cecil's sisters filed a complaint on behalf of Cecil seeking to set aside the 1996 conveyances. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that Cecil lacked capacity when he executed the 1996 Deeds or that the 1996 Deeds were the product of undue influence by Roland. Accordingly, the court recommended that plaintiff's complaint be denied. View "Scott v. Scott" on Justia Law

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The County moved for partial summary judgment, asking the court to uphold alleged land use restrictions created by two agreements (collectively, the "Master Plan") that were executed to govern the development of Pike Creek Valley. The Master Plan prevented PCRS from developing any portion of approximately 177 acres that once operated as a golf course. The court concluded that the Master Plan created a restrictive covenant on the golf course that runs with the land; PCRS had not met its burden of demonstrating that mandamus should lie here; and PCRS could not avoid the applicable County approval processes via the presumption statute, res judicata, collateral estoppel, or by claiming violations of constitutional guarantees. Accordingly, the court denied the interested parties' motion to intervene; granted in part the County's motion for summary judgment; granted in part PCRS' motion for summary judgment; and dismissed the petition for a writ of mandamus. View "New Castle Cty. v. Pike Creek Recreational Servs., LLC" on Justia Law

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After the court concluded that respondent litigated in bad faith and that this matter was unnecessarily prolonged due to petitioners' ambiguously-drafted Petition to Quiet Title, the court directed petitioners to submit a statement of reasonable attorney fees which they believed reflected the cost imposed on them by respondent's purely vexatious legal maneuvers. Petitioners submitted an affidavit for attorney fees but respondent failed to respond. Thus, respondent waived any objection to the statement of fees. The court awarded petitioners $1,250.00 in attorneys' fees under the bad faith exception to the American Rule, to be paid by respondent within thirty days from the date this matter becomes final. View "Branson, et al. v. Branson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs bought a townhouse condominium unit from Defendant. After the sale, repairs of leaks in the other condominium units caused by poor construction required the condominium board to collect special assessments in the amount of $65,000 from each unit holder, including Plaintiffs. Recoupment from the builder offset the sum, but Plaintiffs remained out-of-pocket over $40,000. Plaintiffs sued Defendant, alleging fraud and equitable fraud due to Defendant's allegedly insufficient disclosures made to Plaintiffs before the sale. The Court of Chancery entered judgment in favor of Defendant, holding (1) Plaintiffs failed to prove Defendant committed common-law fraud because they failed to show Defendant misrepresented or omitted some material fact before the sale of the condominium; and (2) rescission was not warranted under the facts of this case, and therefore, equitable fraud was inappropriate. View "Grzybowski v. Tracy" on Justia Law

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This action came before the Court of Chancery on a petition for a decree of distribution in an estate matter. Petitioner and his sister, Respondent, were the intestate heirs of their mother's estate. Ordinarily the estate would be divided evenly between the two of them. Petitioner argued, however, that his sister was not entitled to any additional funds from the estate because (1) she benefited when the estate's property was sold and the proceeds were used to pay off a mortgage she owed on the property, which had the effect of decreasing the amount available in the estate for distribution to the heirs, and (2) Respondent's actions as administratrix depleted the value of the estate. The Court of Chancery ordered that all of the assets in the estate should be distributed to Petitioner, concluding that, after accounting for the benefit Respondent received when the mortgage was paid off, and the loss caused to the estate by the breach of Respondent's fiduciary duties, there were no funds remaining in Respondent's share of the estate. View "In re Riley" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking the partition by sale of property owned by her deceased father and distribution of the proceeds to the three cotenants, herself, her sister Claudia, and her brother Benjamin. Claudia filed a counterclaim and cross-claim against Plaintiff, Benjamin, Benjamin's wife, Homeowners Loan Corporation (HLC), and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) for, among other things, a declaratory judgment that she had a life estate in the property. The Court of Chancery found in favor of Plaintiff and her request for a partition of the property. Claudia was then evicted from the property by a trustee appointed by the court to oversee the sale of the property. Thereafter, Plaintiff sought reimbursement for several expenses. HLC and MERS sought attorneys' fees and rent payments. The Court of Chancery awarded a total of $12,098 to Plaintiff for attorneys' fees, rent payments, funeral expenses, and trustee's fees. The Court also awarded $2,166 in rent payments to HLC and MERS and requested an itemized list of fees incurred as a result of Claudia's behavior that was found to be vexatious or in bad faith. View "Brown v. Wiltbank" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff entered into a lease with Defendant containing optional renewal terms. The parties disputed whether the option was properly exercised. Defendant then informed Plaintiff that if it failed to vacate the leasehold, Defendant would pursue legal action. Plaintiff brought this action to forestall that eventuality. At issue in this case was whether the Court of Chancery can exercise jurisdiction over what is essentially a real estate possession action, notwithstanding that the Legislature has vested exclusive jurisdiction over such matters with the Justice of the Peace Courts. The Court of Chancery granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, concluding (1) the Court does not have jurisdiction, under the facts of this case, to enjoin Defendant from seeking relief from the Justice of the Peace Court in this matter where that court has exclusive jurisdiction; and (2) a claim does not exist in equity to nullify Defendant's contractual rights arising from Plaintiffs' purported failure to timely exercise an option. View "Heartland Del. Inc. v. Rehoboth Mall Ltd. P'ship" on Justia Law