Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle County
Submitted: September 19, 2013
Richard A. DiLiberto, Jr., Esq., YOUNG CONAWAY, STARGATT & TAYLOR, LLP, Attorney for Plaintiff
Sean A. Dolan, Esq. LAW OFFICE OF CYNTHIA, Attorney for Defendant
Alex Smalls Chief Judge
Plaintiff Kenneth Ponzo ("Ponzo") brings this request for an award of compensatory and punitive damages against Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, d/b/a Victoria Insurance Co. ("Nationwide") for Nationwide's failure to pay Ponzo's personal injury protection ("PIP") benefits.
On October 17, 2012, Ponzo brought this action against Nationwide, seeking: payment for personal injury protection ("PIP") benefits, including medical expenses; general damages including pain and suffering; punitive damages; attorney's fees; costs; and interest.
On December 27, 2012, having received no responsive pleading from Nationwide, Ponzo filed an affidavit for default judgment for a sum certain, pursuant to Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 55(b)(1). Default judgment was entered by the Clerk of the Court in the amount of $9, 771.19.
On February 1, 2013, Ponzo filed a letter with the Court, requesting that the case be assigned to a judge and that an inquisition hearing be held on the general and punitive damages requested in the Complaint.
On February 27, 2013, Nationwide filed a motion to vacate the default judgment. A hearing on the motion was held on March 22, 2013. The Court found no excusable neglect attributable to Nationwide, and the motion was denied. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court ordered a hearing to address only the issue of attorney's fees, and denied Ponzo's previous request for a damages hearing on the principal sum.
On June 4, 2013, a damages hearing on the issue of attorney's fees was held. The Court heard testimony from Ponzo, as well as oral argument from both parties. On July 30, 2013, the Court entered an order in favor of Ponzo, awarding attorney's fees in the amount of $15, 250.00.
Over two months later, on August 30, 2013, Ponzo filed a letter with the Court, in which he asserts that "the only outstanding issues are the amount to be awarded to Mr. Ponzo for compensatory damages . . . and punitive damages." Ponzo argues that, at the June 4, 2013 hearing, Ponzo testified to the general damages he suffered and, since the Court found that Nationwide acted in bad faith, compensatory and punitive damages are appropriate.
On September 4, 2013, Nationwide filed a letter in response to Ponzo's request for additional damages. Nationwide argues that Ponzo's request is effectively a Motion for Reargument, which is untimely as such motions must be filed within five days of the Court's decision.
On September 18, 2013, Ponzo filed a reply letter, arguing that his claim for compensatory and punitive damages is not a Motion for Reargument, since the Court's July 30 Order addressed only attorney's fees. Thus, Ponzo concludes, the ...