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Day v. Loucks

Supreme Court of Delaware

February 28, 2018

ROY A. DAY, Plaintiff Below, Appellant,
v.
WILLIAM (BILL) LOUCKS, ANTHONY J. DESANTIS, and 21st CENTURY CENTENNIAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants Below, Appellees.

          Submitted: January 12, 2018

         Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware C.A. No. N16C-10-088

          Before STRINE, Chief Justice; SEITZ and TRAYNOR, Justices.

          ORDER

          Gary F. Traynor Justice

         This 28th day of February, 2018, upon consideration of the parties' briefs and record below, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) The appellant, Roy A. Day, filed this appeal from a Superior Court opinion dismissing his complaint without prejudice.[1] After careful review of the parties' briefs and the record on appeal, we conclude that the Superior Court did not err in dismissing the complaint. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

         (2) This action arises from disputes over the claims handling process for two car accidents in Florida.[2] Day, a Florida resident, alleged that he entered into a contract for car insurance with 21st Century Centennial Insurance Company ("21stCentury"). The first accident occurred on June 23, 2012 when an uninsured driver rear-ended Day's 2010 Hyundai Accent. 21st Century declared the Hyundai Accent a total loss and offered to pay Day $10, 723.33.

         (3) In July and August 2012, Day sent letters to Anthony J. DeSantis, President and Chief Executive Officer of 21st Century, rejecting 21st Century's offer and making counteroffers. In a letter dated August 13, 2012, Day stated that if $12, 000 was not deposited into his account by August 13, 2012, then DeSantis agreed to a daily sanction of $500, 000, compensatory damages of $5 million, pain and suffering damages of $20 million, and punitive damages of $100 million were appropriate. According to Day, DeSantis' failure to reject the August 13, 2012 letter meant that it became a binding and enforceable contract, which the defendants breached. Day also asserted negligence, fraud, and emotional distress claims based on how his insurance claim for the Hyundai Accent was investigated and processed.

         (4) In June and November 2015, Day sent letters to William Loucks, the Chief Operating Officer of 21st Century, expressing his belief that $5 million in compensatory damages, $20 million in pain and suffering damages, and $100 million in punitive damages was fair. Day contended that Loucks' negligent failure to reject the letters in writing meant that the letters became binding contracts, which Loucks breached. Day sought more than $1 billion in damages for Loucks' breach of contract and negligence.

         (5) The second accident occurred on April 29, 2016 when Day's 2015 GM Chevrolet Spark was struck in a parking lot. According to Day, his contract with 21st Century did not state that direct billing was limited to Enterprise Car Rental Company. Day was denied a rental from Enterprise Car Rental Company so he had to rent a car from another company without direct billing to 21st Century. Day asserted breach of contract, fraud, and emotional distress claims based on the lack of direct billing. He sought $500, 000 in compensatory damages and $500, 000 in emotional distress damages.

         (6) Day filed his complaint in the Superior Court on October 13, 2016. Day filed an amended complaint on November 1, 2016. The amended complaint appeared identical to the original complaint, except that there was a cover page stating that all specific damage amounts in the complaint should be replaced with $74, 000.00. 21st Century was served on December 28, 2016. It appears that 21stCentury was served with the original complaint, but not the amended complaint. There is no indication that DeSantis or Loucks were ever served.

         (7) On February 1, 2017, 21st Century filed a motion to dismiss. 21stCentury argued that the Superior Court should dismiss the complaint because: (i) other courts, including state and federal courts in Florida and the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, had enjoined Day from filing lawsuits due to his abusive litigation practices; (ii) the complaint was factually frivolous, malicious, and legally frivolous and therefore subject to dismissal under 10 Del. C. § 8803(c); and (iii) the complaint failed to state a claim under Superior Court Civil Rule 12(b)(6). Day opposed the motion to dismiss.

         (8) On July 28, 2017, the Superior Court dismissed Day's action without prejudice. First, the Superior Court concluded that Day had asserted substantially similar claims against the defendants in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware ("Delaware District Court") and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida ("Florida District Court").[3] Second, the Superior Court concluded that Day was subject to litigation injunctions and other filing procedures for claims arising from the facts pled in the complaint and amended complaint.[4] To proceed on the claims in the complaint and amended complaint in the Delaware District Court, Day was required to provide proof and documentation that he had paid the monetary sanctions imposed upon him by the Florida District Court.[5]

         (9) Based on the doctrine of comity, the Superior Court held Day could not avoid the procedures implemented in the federal courts by filing substantially similar claims in the Superior Court.[6] The Superior Court therefore dismissed Day's action without prejudice, but held Day could reinstate his action if he provided proof and documentation that he paid the monetary sanctions imposed by the Florida District Court.[7] The Superior Court judge also that held any new ...


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