HEATHER M. DELGADO, Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff Below-Appellant,
MAURICE A. MOSLEY, Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant Below-Appellee.
Submitted: October 13, 2017
Below-Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware C.A. No.
STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and VAUGHN, Justices.
L. Valihura Justice.
11th day of December 2017, upon consideration of
the appellant's opening brief and the record on appeal, it
appears to the Court that:
appellant, Heather M. Delgado, filed this appeal from the
Court of Chancery's post-trial bench decision and order
denying her motion for reargument. After a one-day trial, the
Court of Chancery denied appellee Maurice A. Mosley's
claim for rescission of a deed and granted Delgado's
counterclaim for partition of the real property at issue. The
Court of Chancery concluded that Delgado held a 25% interest
in the property and Mosley held a 75% interest. After careful
consideration of Delgado's arguments on appeal and the
record below, we find no error and affirm the Court of
record reflects that the parties were involved in a romantic
relationship between 2001 and 2011. They are the parents of
one child together. The real property in dispute was
purchased by Mosley in 1984. He lived in a trailer on the
property and operated his plumbing business there. After
Delgado moved in with him, she used equity from another
property that she owned to obtain a loan in her sole name to
fund improvements to Mosley's property. Mosley performed
or assisted with much of the construction work himself.
2011, Delgado found a form quitclaim deed on the internet.
The parties completed the form by hand, deeding the property
from Mosley to both Mosley and Delgado. The form deed did not
specify the parties' respective ownership interests in
the property. The deed was executed on September 29, 2011 in
the presence of a notary and was later recorded. A few months
later, the parties had a falling out, and Delgado filed for
and received a Protection from Abuse Order barring Mosley
from the property.
2012, Mosley filed a complaint in the Court of Chancery
alleging, among other things, that his signature on the
quitclaim deed was forged. Delgado answered the complaint and
filed a counterclaim for partition of the property. Nearly
two years later, after retaining new counsel, Delgado was
permitted to amend her answer and counterclaim, requesting
either a partition of the real property or the imposition of
a constructive trust over the property and the plumbing
business. After a one-day trial on October 26, 2016, the
Court of Chancery reserved judgment and allowed the parties
to present post-trial arguments.
Following post-trial arguments on November 22, 2016, the
Court of Chancery issued its ruling from the bench. The trial
court concluded that Mosley had not presented clear and
convincing evidence of fraud to justify rescission of the
deed. Although the deed did not specify how the title was to
be held, the trial court noted that the parties were presumed
to hold the title as tenants in common and that, as tenants
in common, the parties were presumed to be equal co-owners.
Nonetheless, the trial court concluded that the presumption
of 50/50 ownership in this case had been rebutted and that,
in light of the parties' unequal contributions to the
value of the property, Mosley retained a 75% interest in the
property and Delgado held a 25% interest in the property. The
trial court found that the deed was not a romantic gift from
Mosley to Delgado, but was intended to protect Delgado's
financial investment in the property. The court found that
the property was worth about $200, 000, after the
improvements to the property, and that Delgado had
contributed around $50, 000 toward those improvements.
Delgado moved for reargument, which the Court of Chancery
denied. This appeal followed.
Delgado raises three arguments in her opening brief on
appeal. First, Delgado contends that the Court of Chancery
erred in limiting her interest in the property. Second,
Delgado contends that her investment in the property doubled
its value and that the Court of Chancery erred in not
imposing a constructive trust in her favor to prevent
Mosley's unjust enrichment from her investment. Finally,
Delgado argues that the Court of Chancery erred in not
awarding her attorneys fees.
Court of Chancery heard the evidence and rejected all of the
claims that Delgado argues on appeal. After careful
consideration of Delgado's opening brief and the record
below, this Court has determined that the judgment of the
Court of Chancery should be affirmed on the basis of and for
the reasons assigned by the Court of Chancery in its November
22, 2016 post-trial bench ruling and its January 30, 2017
bench ruling denying Delgado's motion for reargument. We
find no error or abuse of discretion.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that judgment of the Court ...