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Hastings v. Hosler

Superior Court of Delaware

January 3, 2018

LARRY HASTINGS, individually and d/b/a K & L BLACKHOE SERVICES, an unincorporated entity, and KATHY HASTINGS, Plaintiffs,
v.
NICOLE ANN HOSLER Defendant.

          Submitted: December 12, 2017

          ORDER

          The Honorable Andrea L. Rocanelli Judge

         Upon consideration of the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiffs Larry Hastings, Kathy Hastings, and K & L Backhoe Services (collectively, "Plaintiffs"); Defendant Nicole Ann Hosler's ("Defendant") opposition thereto; the facts, arguments, and authorities set forth by the parties; the Superior Court Civil Rules; statutory and decisional law; and the entire record in this case, the Court hereby finds as follows:

          1. On December 30, 2015, Plaintiffs brought this action against Defendant alleging that Defendant was in default of several loans. Plaintiffs allege that they made various loans to Defendant beginning in 2012 that Defendant has not repaid. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant owes the following amounts: $9, 408.97 to Larry and Kathy Hastings; $47, 410.00 to K & L Backhoe Services; and $10, 791.56 to Larry Hastings. Plaintiffs also allege that Defendant owes Larry and Kathy Hastings $1, 000.00 for posting a bond for Defendant. In total, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant owes $68, 610.53 under the various loans.

         2. Defendant answered Plaintiffs' complaint on June 16, 2016. Defendant is self-represented.

         3. Plaintiffs now move for summary judgment. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant's sole defense is that she was addicted to drugs at the time she entered into the various loans, and that Defendant has not put forth any evidence to show that Plaintiffs knew she was under the influence at the time Defendant entered into each agreement. Defendant opposes Plaintiffs' motion.

         4. In addition, Defendant filed a motion to compel, alleging that Plaintiffs failed to provide discovery responses by the November 18, 2017 deadline. However, Defendant did not specify what discovery responses she is seeking. Plaintiffs oppose Defendant's motion.

          5. The Court may grant summary judgment only where the moving party can "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."[1] The moving party bears the initial burden of proof and, once that is met, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to show that a material issue of fact exists.[2] At the motion for summary judgment phase, the Court must view the facts "in the light most favorable to the non-moving party."[3]

         6. There are limited circumstances in which intoxication allows a person to avoid contractual duties.[4] The Second Restatement provides:

A person incurs only voidable contractual duties by entering into a transaction if the other party has reason to know that by reason of intoxication (a) he is unable to understand in a reasonable manner the nature and consequences of the transaction, or (b) he is unable to act in a reasonable manner in relation to the transaction.[5]

         Thus, the other party to the contract must know that intoxicated person lacks capacity at the time of contract formation for the contract to be voidable.[6]

          7. In Robino, a defendant sought to invalidate a settlement agreement on the grounds that it was the product of his "diminished capacity…resulting from his ongoing battle with substance abuse."[7] In support, the defendant submitted various medical records to support his claim that he had been treated for substance abuse-related issues.[8] The Court rejected his argument, concluding that evidence of a substance abuse problem by itself did not corroborate "that he was incapacitated by intoxication" at the time he entered into the settlement agreement, or that the other party would have any reason to know of the intoxication.[9]

         8. Plaintiffs argue that Defendant's "intoxication" defense contains the same deficiencies as the defendant's in Robino. Plaintiffs argue that Defendant has only produced evidence that she generally suffers from a drug addiction, not that she was intoxicated at the time she entered into the loans or that Plaintiffs knew of any intoxication. As a result, Plaintiffs contend that Defendant cannot dispute her obligations under the various loan agreements, and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         9. However, the Court finds that summary judgment is not appropriate in this case. In addition to the evidence that she generally suffers from a drug addiction, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs did in fact know she was intoxicated at the time she entered into the various loan agreements. In addition, Defendant has indicated that her mother will testify to this effect on her behalf. As a result, the Court finds there is a dispute of material fact regarding whether Defendant was intoxicated at the time of ...


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