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Uribe v. Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund

Supreme Court of Delaware

May 21, 2015

MARTINA URIBE and CARLOTA URIBE, Appellants Below-Appellants,
v.
MARYLAND AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE FUND, Appellee Below-Appellee

Submitted May 6, 2015.

Case Closed July 8, 2015

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. C.A. No. N13A-09-014.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND, and VAUGHN, Justices.

ORDER

James T. Vaughn, Jr., Justice.

On this 21st day of May 2015, it appears to the Court that:

(1) Appellants-below/Appellants Martina and Carlota Uribe (the " Appellants" ) appeal from a Superior Court order affirming a Court of Common Pleas order granting Appellee-below/Appellee Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund's (" MAIF" ) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.[1] The Appellants raise two claims on appeal. First, they argue that the Superior Court incorrectly interpreted Delaware's Long-Arm Statute, 10 Del C. § 3104. Second, they argue that the Superior Court erred by applying the incorrect standard for personal jurisdiction under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because we find the Appellants failed to articulate any basis for the Court of Common Pleas to assert personal jurisdiction over MAIF under Delaware's Long-Arm Statute, we affirm. We do not reach the Appellants' due process claim.

(2) On April 12, 2013, the Appellants, two Delaware residents, were involved in an automobile accident in Delaware while riding in a vehicle owned and operated by the Appellants' sister, Ofelia Contreras. Contreras's vehicle was registered in Maryland and insured through MAIF. MAIF is an agency of the State of Maryland that was created for the purpose of providing vehicle insurance to eligible Maryland residents who are unable to obtain insurance through a private Maryland insurance provider.[2]

(3) In June 2013, the Appellants filed suit against MAIF in the Court of Common Pleas to recover personal injury protection (" PIP" ) benefits under Delaware's No-Fault Statute, 21 Del C. § 2118,[3] for the injuries they suffered in the car accident. In August 2013, MAIF filed a motion to quash and dismiss the Complaint on the basis that the Court of Common Pleas lacked personal jurisdiction over MAIF under Delaware's Long-Arm Statute. After hearing oral arguments on the issue, the Court of Common Pleas granted MAIF's motion.

(4) In September 2014, the Superior Court affirmed the Court of Common Pleas' order granting MAIF's motion to dismiss. The Superior Court held that " [t]he Court of Common Pleas correctly found that it lacked personal jurisdiction over MAIF because [the] Appellants failed to make a prima facie showing that the provisions of the Long-Arm Statute apply to MAIF." [4] This appeal followed.

(5) " The question of in personam jurisdiction involves mixed questions of fact and law." [5] " We will accept the trial judge's findings of fact so long as they are the product of an orderly and logical deductive process and are sufficiently supported by the record." [6] " We will review questions of law de novo." [7]

(6) " Delaware courts apply a two-step analysis to determine whether the court has in personam jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant." [8] " [We] must first consider whether the long-arm statute applies, and then evaluate whether exercise of jurisdiction would violate the Due Process Clause . . . ." [9] Under Delaware's Long-Arm ...


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