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Shahin v. Sam's Club East & Synchrony Bank

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

June 20, 2018

NINA SHAHIN, Appellant,

          Submitted: April 3, 2018

          Benjamin P. Chappie, Esquire

          Jeffrey L. Moyer, Esquire

          Nicole K. Pedi, Esquire



         Plaintiff-Below/Appellant Nina Shahin (hereinafter "Ms. Shahin"), appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas (hereinafter "CCP"). In that order, the CCP denied Ms. Shahin's motion for reconsideration (hereinafter the "Motion for Reconsideration"). This Court finds no merit to Ms. Shahin's appeal and affirms the CCP's order. The Court shall briefly recount the facts and procedural history of this matter as reflected by the record:

         In August of 2014, Ms. Shahin opened a Sam's Club-branded credit card account (hereinafter the "Account") with Synchrony Bank. On August 6, 2016, Ms. Shahin went to a Sam's Club store to purchase an Arctic Zone Oversized Trunk Organizer with Removable Cooler (hereinafter the "Trunk Organizer"), which was advertised as being on sale for $9.98, "[l]imited quantities available on all items." Upon arriving, Ms. Shahin was unable to purchase as many Trunk Organizers as she intended, apparently because the store's stock of Trunk Organizers was limited. Ms. Shahin consequently sued Sam's Club East, Inc. (hereinafter "Sam's Club").

         Several days later, on August 18, 2016, several attempts were made to place charges on the Account from a Domino's Pizza in Fruita, Colorado (hereinafter the "Attempted Charges"). Determining that the Attempted Charges indicated sufficient risk of fraud or identity theft, Synchrony Bank placed a temporary fraud restriction on the Account on August 19, 2016, so as to prevent further charges. In response to the imposed restriction, Ms. Shahin directed Synchrony Bank to close the Account, which was done pursuant to the request. Ms. Shahin sued Synchrony Bank for having placed the fraud restriction on her account.

         On June 28, 2017, the CCP held a pre-trial conference by telephone, during which the CCP orally granted summary judgment to Synchrony Bank and Sam's Club. Ms. Shahin later filed a motion for access to an audio recording of the teleconference held on June 28, 2017 (hereinafter "Motion for Audio Recording"). In an order dated October 11, 2017, the CCP denied the Motion for Audio Recording, explaining that "[t]here is no rule in this Court that requires access to a party of an audio record on a case that is no longer pending."

         On October 17, 2017, Ms. Shahin filed her Motion for Reconsideration of the October 11, 2017 order denying her access to the Audio Recording.[1] In the Motion for Reconsideration, Ms. Shahin accused the CCP of falsifying the transcript of the teleconference, racketeering, and official misconduct, arguing that the "falsification of transcript is considered as an act of racketeering."

         The CCP denied the Motion for Reconsideration on December 19, 2017. The CCP explained that Ms. Shahin had failed to set forth "any factual or legal mistakes made by this Court in its decision," thus falling short of the requirements of Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 59(e). Ms. Shahin now appeals that order to this Court. Therefore, this Court's review on appeal is limited to determining "whether the trial court improperly failed to reconsider its decision and correct any legal or factual errors."[2]

         On appeal, the appellant has an obligation to "marshal the relevant facts and establish reversible error by demonstrating why the action at trial was contrary to either controlling precedent or persuasive decisional authority from other jurisdictions."[3]Further, "failure to cite any authority in support of a legal argument constitutes a waiver of the issue on appeal."[4]

         Despite the narrow scope of this appeal-which concerns only the CCP's denial of Ms. Shahin's Motion for Reconsideration-Ms. Shahin's opening brief recounts a lengthy and unsubstantiated history of her alleged systematic harassment by the Dover Police Department, which is not a party to this action. The opening brief also alleges that the CCP judge who presided over this matter was biased, dishonest, and professionally unqualified. All these factual allegations are improper because they are beyond the scope of the issue appealed, beyond the scope of the record, [5] and in any case may not be validated or rejected by a reviewing court, which is not to "make its own factual findings."[6] Rule 59(e), which controls motions for reconsideration or reargument, was never cited by Ms. Shahin in her opening brief. Nor did Ms. Shahin offer any authority interpreting Rule 59(e), or any legal argument to persuade this Court that the Motion for Reconsideration was incorrectly decided. The Court finds that Ms. Shahin's failure to marshal any relevant authority or argument in her opening brief independently warrants dismissal of the appeal.[7]

         However, in the interests of justice, the Court shall additionally consider whether the Motion for Reconsideration was properly denied. A motion for reconsideration filed pursuant to Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 59(e) will only be granted if "the Court has overlooked a controlling precedent or legal principles, or the Court has misapprehended the law or facts such as would have changed the outcome of the underlying decision."[8] Motions for reargument should not be used to rehash arguments already decided by the Court, or to present new arguments that were not previously raised.[9] Using a motion for reargument for either of these improper purposes "frustrate[s] the efficient use of judicial resources, place[s] the opposing party in an unfair position, and stymie[s] 'the orderly process of reaching closure on the issues.'"[10] In order for the motion to be granted, ...

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