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Credit Acceptance Corp. v. Liggon

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

July 7, 2017

CREDIT ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION assignee of FIRST CHOICE AUTO SALES INC, Plaintiff,
v.
STEWART LIGGON, Defendant.

          Submitted: June 8, 2017

          Joelle E. Polesky, Esquire Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP Attorney for Plaintiff.

          Jessica A. Kolansky, Esquire (pro hac vice) Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP Attorney for Plaintiff.

          Stewart Liggon Pro Se Defendant.

          ORDER

          ALEX J. SMALLS, CHIEF JUDGE

         COME NOW, this 5th day of July, 2017, the Court, having held a hearing on the motions on May 19, 2017 and after consideration of submissions on June 8, 2017, finds as follows:

         1. On November 22, 2016, Plaintiff/Counterclaim-Defendant Credit Acceptance Corporation ("Plaintiff") filed an action against Defendant/Counterclaim-Plaintiff Stewart Liggon ("Defendant") for defaulting on a retail installment contract for the purchase of a 2007 Chevrolet Impala (the "Vehicle"). The contract was assigned to Plaintiff from First Choice Auto Sales, Inc. (the "Dealer").

         2. On December 30, 2016, Defendant filed an Answer and Counterclaim, alleging the Vehicle was a "lemon." Defendant also claims the Dealer failed to provide him with a copy of the Vehicle's "CarFax" after requested. Additionally, Defendant claims he is the "victim of fraudulent business practices, " and seeks punitive and compensatory damages against Plaintiff.

         3. On January 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration, alleging the retail installment contract Defendant signed contained a provision which requires arbitration of both Plaintiff's claim for breach of contract and Defendant's counterclaim related to the quality of the vehicle.

         4. On March 3, 2017, the Court held a hearing on Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration, at which Defendant failed to appear. However, Defendant's mother, Elizabeth Liggon ("Ms. Liggon"), appeared attempting to represent Defendant and asserted-over objection of Plaintiff's counsel-the issue of Defendant's competency to enter into the retail installment contract. The Court passed the motions until May 19, 2017, and permitted Defendant leave to "file any motion raising the issue of competency within twenty (20) days."

         5. On March 23, 2017, Ms. Liggon submitted a letter to the Court, on behalf of Defendant, stating Defendant suffers from dyslexia and cannot read. Ms. Liggon requested Defendant "be given the help he needs to understand these proceedings and anything else he is asked to sign." Furthermore, on April 7, 2017, Ms. Liggon submitted another letter to the Court, in the form of a motion, requesting the Court appoint counsel to represent Defendant. On May 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition of Ms. Liggon's motion to appoint counsel and a cross-motion to strike Ms. Liggon's motion to appoint counsel.

         6. On May 19, 2017, the Court held a hearing on Plaintiff's motion to dismiss and compel arbitration, Ms. Liggon's motion to appoint counsel, and Plaintiff's cross-motion to strike Ms. Liggon's motion to appoint counsel. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court reserved decision, and ordered supplemental briefing.

         7. In Delaware, only attorneys admitted to the Bar of the State of Delaware or attorneys admitted pro hac vice may appear before the Court on behalf of another individual.[1]Any attempt by a non-attorney to appear before the Court on behalf of another is considered the unauthorized practice of law.[2] The Delaware Supreme Court has held:

"The unauthorized practice of law is prohibited so that members of the public will receive legal representation only from a person who has demonstrated his or her competence to practice law by passing the bar examination, as well as the character and fitness examination, and who is subject to the ...

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