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Knott v. LVNV Funding, LLC

Supreme Court of Delaware

June 24, 2014

SHARON KNOTT, Defendant-Below, Appellant,
v.
LVNV FUNDING, LLC, Plaintiff-Below, Appellee

Submitted May 7, 2014.

Case Closed July 2, 2014.

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware, in and for New Castle County. Case No. SN04J-04-116.

Albert M. Greto, Esquire, Law Offices of Albert M. Greto, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Appellant.

Patrick Scanlon, Esquire, Law Offices of Patrick Scanlon, P.A., Milford, Delaware, Attorney for Appellee.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND, BERGER, JACOBS, and RIDGELY, Justices.

OPINION

STRINE, Chief Justice:

I. Introduction

In 2003, a default judgment was entered in the Court of Common Pleas against the appellant, Sharon Knott, in favor of the appellee, LVNV Funding, LLC (the " Creditor" ). The Creditor did not attempt to execute on the judgment for more than nine years, until the Creditor moved to refresh the judgment in 2012. Throughout the proceedings, Knott argued that 10 Del. C . § 5072, which governs the execution of judgments in civil actions, acts as a statute of limitations that requires the holder of a judgment to seek to execute on the judgment within the first five years after the

Page 14

judgment is entered. The Superior Court rejected that argument, relying on a thoughtful decision of a Commissioner finding that the five year limit in § 5072 did not operate as a statute of limitations, but was merely a time period after which a judgment creditor had to affirmatively ask the Superior Court to refresh the judgment in its discretion, rather than the judgment creditor being entitled to execute on the judgment as of right.

At oral argument on appeal, the parties acknowledged for the first time that perhaps the relevant statute was actually 10 Del. C . § 5073, which governs the execution of judgments that were first entered in the Court of Common Pleas. But Knott argued that the result was the same under either statute, because both statutes impose a five year period of limitations on the collection of judgments. Knott's only argument below opposing the refreshment of the judgment was on that ground. We do not find favor with Knott's argument, because as we have previously held, there is no statute of limitations on the collection of a judgment and neither § 5072 nor § 5073 operate as a statute of limitations on the execution of judgments. Thus, the Superior Court's grant of the motion to refresh the judgment is affirmed.

II. Background

On October 12, 2012, the Creditor moved to refresh a judgment against Knott (the " Motion to Refresh" ). The judgment against Knott was first obtained on February 4, 2003 as a default judgment in the Court of Common Pleas. Then, it was transferred to the Superior Court on April 6, 2004 (the " Judgment" ).[1] The Creditor's Motion to Refresh was argued to a Commissioner of the Superior Court.[2]

Knott argued that 10 Del. C . § 5072 is a statute of limitations that requires the holder of a judgment to " do something" within five years to be able to execute on that judgment.[3] Knott claimed that because the Creditor had not sought to execute on the Judgment for more than nine years, the Creditor was now forever barred from executing on the Judgment. The Creditor argued that ยง 5072 was not a statute of limitations, and that it only served to extend the time period within which a judgment creditor could execute on a judgment without filing a Rule to Show Cause. Section 5072 extended that period from the common law rule of ...


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