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Yacht v. Wolhar

Superior Court of Delaware

July 28, 2017

ROBERT WOLHAR, JR., Appellee-Defendant Below.

          Submitted: May 8, 2017

         Upon Appellant's Motion for Reargument, DENIED.

          Eugene H. Bayard, Esquire and David C. Hutt, Esquire, Morris James Wilson Halbrook & Bayard, LLP, Attorney for Appellant

          Robert Wolhar, Jr., 18 Sherborne Road, Rehoboth Beach, pro se Appellee



         I. Introduction And Procedural History [1]

         Before the Court is a Motion for Reargument filed by Rehoboth Beach Yacht & Country Club Property Owners Association ("Appellant") on February 9, 2017. Appellant requests that the Court reconsider its decision that the purported amendments to the restrictive covenants were not validly adopted by Appellant, and that Appellant was not entitled to late fees and attorney's fees from Robert Wolhar, Jr. ("Appellee") as penalty for late payment of association dues.[2]

         On September 27, 2013, Appellant filed suit against Appellee in Justice of the Peace Court Number 17 (the "JP Court") for amounts allegedly due to Appellant for fines and penalties related to delinquent payment of association dues. The action was filed pursuant to provisions in an amendment to the restrictive covenants of the Rehoboth Beach Yacht & Country Club community ("RBYCC").[3] Appellee is an individual who resides in, and owns, 18 Sherborne Road, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware 19971, a property also known as Lot 7, Block 11, Section B of the RBYCC.[4] On January 7, 2014, following a trial, the JP Court found in favor of Appellee.[5] On January 23, 2014, Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal and Complaint on Appeal with CCP.[6]

         On December 10, 2014, Appellant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Oral argument on the Motion was held on April 13, 2015.[7] On June 4, 2015, CCP advised the parties that, after reviewing the pleadings and conducting oral argument in the matter, the court believed there were no triable issues of material fact and that the court was prepared to render a decision.[8] In that letter, CCP invited the parties to submit any other information before the Court rendered its decision, but neither did. On July 21, 2015, CCP issued an opinion denying Appellant's Motion for Summary Judgment, but granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee.[9] CCP held that the two methods of amending the restrictive covenants as provided in Paragraphs 4 and 6 of Article F of the 1975 Deed, 1975 Restrictions, and the 1981 Deed, were "so wholly opposite in their intent and method that they cannot be interpreted and reconciled as alternatives; rather, each was intended to apply to different periods of the development's establishment."[10] CCP determined, utilizing rules of construction, that Appellant had not met the requirements of either section in adopting the amendment at issue.[11]

         On August 4, 2015, Appellant filed a timely appeal of CCP's decision.[12] On November 12, 2015, Appellant filed an Opening Brief[13] and on December 3, 2015, Appellee filed a response.[14] On December 14, 2015, Appellant filed a reply to Appellee's response.[15] On April 11, 2016 the case was assigned to the undersigned Judge. On August 18, 2016 oral argument was held. On December 27, 2016 the matter was taken under advisement.

         On February 2, 2017 the Court issued its Opinion, affirming the decision of the Court of Common Pleas, finding that Appellant had not properly adopted the purported amendments to the restrictive covenants, and therefore Appellant was not entitled to collect late fees and attorneys' fees from Appellee for his failure to timely pay his association dues.

         On February 9, 2017 Appellant filed the instant Motion for Reargument. On February 14, 2017 Appellee filed his Response to Appellant's Motion for Reargument. On February 20, 2017 Appellant filed a Motion to Strike, arguing that Appellee exceeded the page limits and used smaller font size than what is dictated by Superior Court Rule 78. On February 22, 2017 Appellee filed a Response to Appellant's Motion to Strike, as well as an Amended Response to the Motion for Reargument, which complied with Rule 78. The Court denied Appellant's Motion to Strike because Appellee had timely filed a Response which complied with the rules, but held that it would not consider Appellant's February 14, 2017 Response.

         On May 8, 2017 a hearing was held on the Motion for Reargument before the Court. The parties were given an opportunity to present argument, and supplement their paper submissions to the Court on the issue. The Court then took the matter under advisement, and considered all arguments which had been presented. For the reasons discussed below, the Appellant's Motion for Reargument is DENIED.

         II. Parties' Contentions

         A. Appellant's Arguments

         Appellant contends that the Court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of Appellee because the Court's interpretation of Paragraph 4, Appellant contends, differs from their own, the Appellee's, and the Court below. Appellant contends such a circumstance clearly indicates the provision is ambiguous.

         Appellant argues the Court's interpretation gives the section an entirely new meaning, and contends, without authority, that this Court erred because it did not find the previous interpretations unreasonable prior to adopting its own. Appellant contends the parties did not have the opportunity to address the new interpretation and requests the opportunity to develop the record regarding same.

         Further, Appellant contends that the Court's interpretation of Paragraph 4 produces an absurd result, in that different rules would govern different sections of the community if the Court's decision remains. Appellant also argues that the Court failed to give force to the full language of Paragraph 4, which empowers the Developer or RBYCC to amend the restrictive covenants as to any lands which they then owned, and also "as to any other lands of those herein conveyed, " "with the consent of the then owner or owners."

         Appellant contends that only the 2007 Amendment was at issue in the appeal, and the Court's decision that the 2003 and 2005 Amendments were not validly enacted was overbroad, ultra vires, and affects the rights of other property owners not before the Court.

         Appellant contends title searches, which were not conducted, nor part of the record, are required to establish what lots are affected, and that, "at a minimum, " the court should have remanded the matter to CCP for further fact finding.

         B. Appellee's Arguments

         Appellee contends that the Court does not have jurisdiction to hear Appellant's Motion, because he was not served within five days. Appellee contends that he was not served until the sixth day after the Court issued its Opinion affirming the decision of CCP, and therefore Appellant failed to timely serve Appellee with the Motion for Reargument. Even if the Motion was served timely, Appellee contends that the Appellant has not identified any facts or controlling law which were overlooked by the Court when it made its decision. Further, Appellee contends that Appellant is merely rehashing arguments which were already considered by the Court prior to entering its decision. Finally, Appellee contends that the record supports the Court's decision that the 2003 and 2005 Amendments were also improperly enacted, and that the Court's decision should remain intact.

         III. ...

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