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Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co. v. Goldfeder

Supreme Court of Delaware

February 14, 2014

NANCY GOLDFEDER c/o EMIL MIKHAIL, Guardian Ad Litem, Defendant Below-Appellee

Submitted January 9, 2014.

Case Closed March 5, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County. No. 08L-10-197.

Before BERGER, JACOBS, and RIDGELY, Justices.


Henry duPont Ridgely Justice.


On this 14th day of February 2014, it appears to the Court that:

(1) Plaintiff-Below/Appellant Deutsche Bank National Trust Company (" Deutsche Bank" ) appeals a Superior Court order granting Defendant-Below/Appellee Nancy Goldfeder's Petition to Vacate the Sheriff's Deed, Vacate Confirmation, and Set Aside the Sheriff's Sale in an In Rem Scire Facias Sur mortgage action. Deutsche Bank raises three claims on appeal. Deutsche Bank contends that the Superior Court erred: (1) by vacating the sale without finding that Deutsche Bank committed a defect or error in notice of the foreclosure sale, (2) by granting Goldfeder's motion even though it was presented after confirmation without any excusable delay, and (3) for considering whether there was prejudice to Deutsche Bank. We find no merit to Deutsche Bank's appeal. Accordingly, we affirm.

(2) Goldfeder is incompetent. She suffers from HIV/AIDS, alcoholism, severe bouts of diarrhea, extreme weight loss, and a score of 25 on the Global Assessment of Functioning scale.[1] Goldfeder cannot handle the responsibilities of home ownership, personal finance, or even basic self-care. Dr. Emil Mikhail, a non-native English speaker, first began treating Goldfeder around 2001. Goldfeder presented multiple difficulties, and Dr. Mikhail diagnosed her with HIV, among other things. Ten months later, Dr. Mikhail saw Goldfeder walking in traffic, appearing disheveled and homeless. He took her to the emergency room where he learned that Goldfeder's condition had progressed to AIDS. Dr. Mikhail also learned that Goldfeder's residence on Union Street was condemned by the City in 2007. He offered her space in the basement of his residence, where she lived from 2007 until 2011. Dr. Mikhail also paid certain of Goldfeder's expenses, including helping Goldfeder's father with her mortgage.

(3) Goldfeder had entered into her mortgage with MERS as nominee for Home Funds Direct in 2004. The mortgage was secured by the property located on North Union Street in Wilmington. The mortgage was later assigned to Deutsche Bank. In 2007, Goldfeder defaulted on that mortgage. Deutsche Bank filed an In Rem Scire Facias Sur mortgage action against her in 2008. Goldfeder failed to appear or file a pleading in the matter. Deutsche Bank obtained a default judgment on April 13, 2010. A writ of levari facias was issued, and a sheriff's sale was held in November 2011. Deutsche Bank was the highest bidder at sale. The sale was confirmed on December 23, 2011, and the sheriff deeded the property to Deutsche Bank on January 25, 2012.

(4) Dr. Mikhail became aware of the sheriff's sale in January 2012. He took Goldfeder to the Department of Justice to file a complaint that a bank was trying to improperly take possession of the North Union Street property. Not long thereafter, Dr. Mikhail contacted an attorney to inquire whether Goldfeder had any recourse after the sheriff's sale out of the belief that Goldfeder was a victim of predatory lending. The attorney advised Dr. Mikhail that Goldfeder was likely without recourse against Deutsche Bank. Upon learning that the Attorney General was not pursuing the matter, Dr. Mikhail subsequently took a different course of action. He sought Guardian Ad Litem status for Goldfeder in order to void the sale. On July 27, 2012, the Superior Court found Goldfeder to be incompetent on matters relating to the Sheriff's Sale and granted the Dr. Mikhail Guardian Ad Litem status.

(5) On August 8, 2012, Goldfeder, through her guardian Dr. Mikhail, filed a Motion to Vacate Sheriff's Sale, Vacate Confirmation, and Set Aside Sheriff's Sale for, inter alia, failure to provide adequate notice under Superior Court Rule 69(g). After oral argument, the trial court granted the motion, citing Goldfeder's incompetence and lack of prejudice to Deutsche Bank. An appeal followed. After hearing oral arguments, we retained jurisdiction under Supreme Court Rule 19(c) and remanded this matter to the Superior Court to determine the factual basis for granting Goldfeder's motion.[2] After supplemental briefings and a hearing, the Superior Court found that Goldfeder was given adequate constructive notice.[3] But the trial court found that she was incompetent at the time of this notice, which caused her to delay seeking relief.[4] Additionally, the Superior Court found that Dr. Mikhail's delay in seeking redress on behalf of ...

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