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Schrader-Vannewkirk v. Daube

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

January 13, 2014

DIANE M. SCHRADER-VANNEWKIRK, individually and as Next Friend of NICOLE C. VAN NEWKIRK, a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
SHARON C. DAUBE, Defendant.

Submitted: January 7, 2014

Upon Defendant's Partial Motion for Summary Judgment and Confirmation of Settlement Agreement.

Denied. Diane M. Schrader-VanNewkirk, pro se

Brian T. McNelis, Esquire of Young & McNelis, Dover, Delaware; attorney for Defendant.

ORDER

William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge

ISSUE

Whether the Court should grant Defendant's Partial Motion for Summary Judgment on the basis that the minor plaintiff's attorney had allegedly reached a settlement agreement with Defendant's attorney.

BACKGROUND

Defendant Sharon Daube ("Defendant") moves for Partial Summary Judgment on the claims pertaining to injuries suffered by minor Plaintiff Nicole C. VanNewkirk ("Nicole") on the basis that a settlement agreement has already been reached for Nicole's injuries. Nicole was six years old at the time of the accident, and is still a minor at 14 years old.

Defendant alleges that on Monday, January 11, 2010 a settlement agreement was reached via telephone between Defendant's attorney Brian McNelis ("McNelis") and Nicole's attorney, Mark Ippoliti ("Ippoliti"). Ippoliti was an attorney with Gary Nitsche's ("Nitsche") firm; Nitsche represented Plaintiff Diane-Schrader-VanNewkirk ("Diane") at the time. Defendant contends that Ippoliti accepted a settlement of $3, 000 on behalf of Nicole.

By letter to Ippoliti dated January 11, 2010, McNelis confirmed the settlement amount of $3, 000. McNelis' letter states that Ippoliti would be taking care of obtaining Court approval for the minor settlement, and assuring that the proceeds would be placed in an account for Nicole's benefit. This letter was provided to the Court and added as part of the docket.

It appears that neither Ippoliti nor Nistche ever took steps to obtain Court approval for the purported settlement. Defendant points to McNelis' 2010 letter to Ippoliti, as well as the absence of any trial exhibits, medical exhibits or voir dire questions pertaining to Nicole's claim for damages as evidence of the settlement agreement.

Upon request by this Court, Nitsche submitted a letter dated December 11, 2013 addressing McNelis' allegations of a settlement agreement. Nitsche states that Ippoliti "thought he had the authority to resolve this matter with [Diane]. . .but it was never 'allegedly' accepted." Nitsche also states that there was never any payment submitted to his office towards Nicole's settlement, and thus no minor settlement petition was filed.

Diane, since proceeding pro se, has submitted a series of undated and unsigned letters to the Court addressing the case. Two of these letters appear to respond to the instant motion. In the first letter, Diane states "I am also not clear on what is going on with my daughter's case, as [Nitsche] has ...


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