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State v. Gonzalez

Superior Court of Delaware

August 6, 2018

THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff
v.
CINDY GONZALEZ, Defendant.

          Submitted: August 2, 2018

         On Defendant's Application for Certification of Interlocutory Appeal. GRANTED.

          Oliver J. Cleary, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Plaintiff

          John S. Whitelaw, Esquire, Kate Sell, Esquire, Community Legal Aid Society, Inc., Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Defendants.

          ORDER

          RICHARD R. COOCH, J.

         This 6th day of August 2018, upon consideration of Defendant's Application for Certification of Interlocutory Appeal, it appears to the Court that:

         1. On January 12, 2018, the State of Delaware ("Plaintiff) filed a complaint against Cindy Gonzalez ("Defendant"). In the complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant "fraudulently obtain[ed] government benefits in violation of Delaware common law and the Delaware False Claims and Reporting Acts, 6 Del. C. §§ 1201 et. seq. ("DFCRA").[1] On February 23, 2018, Defendant filed her Answer to Plaintiffs Complaint and acknowledged all allegations against her; however, she asserted an affirmative defense of federal implied conflict-preemption and alleged that Plaintiffs claim is "precluded by the provisions of the Food Stamp Act, 7 U.S.C. § 2011 et seq."[2] On March 1, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. On July 9, 2018 a hearing on the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings was held. On June 19, 2018, this Court granted the Plaintiffs Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings after finding no material issues of fact in dispute.[3] Pursuant to 10 Del. C. § 512 and Superior Court Rule 132, this Court referred this matter to a Commissioner of the Delaware Superior Court for "a hearing to determine the amount of all fees and/or costs owed by Defendant pursuant to 6 Del. C. § 1201(a)."[4] On July 27, 2018, Defendant filed the instant "Application to the Trial Court for Certification of Interlocutory Appeal."[5] On August 2, 2018, Plaintiff "[took] no position on this Application."[6]

         2. Delaware Supreme Court Rule 42 sets out the criteria to be applied when a court is faced with certification and acceptance of interlocutory appeals. A party seeking certification and acceptance of an interlocutory appeal must adhere to the strict requirements set forth in 42(b). Specifically, the rule states:

(b) Criteria to be applied in determining certification and acceptance of interlocutory appeals. -
(i) No interlocutory appeal will be certified by the trial court or accepted by this Court unless the order of the trial court decides a substantial issue of material importance that merits appellate review before a final judgment.
(ii) Interlocutory appeals should be exceptional, not routine, because they disrupt the normal procession of litigation, cause delay, and can threaten to exhaust scarce party and judicial resources. Therefore, parties should only ask for the right to seek interlocutory review if they believe in good faith that there are substantial benefits that will outweigh the certain costs that accompany an interlocutory appeal.
(iii) Any application for interlocutory review shall contain a statement that the applicant and the applicant's counsel have determined in good faith that the application meets the criteria set forth in this paragraph. Consistent with the principles set forth in subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph, in deciding whether to certify an interlocutory appeal, the trial court should consider whether:
(A)The interlocutory order involves a question of law resolved for the first time in this State;
(B) The decisions of the trial courts are conflicting upon the question of law;
(C) The question of law relates to the constitutionality, construction, or application of a statute of this State, which has not been, but should be, settled by this Court in advance of an appeal from a final order;
(D) The interlocutory order has sustained the controverted jurisdiction of the trial court;
(E) The interlocutory order has reversed or set aside a prior decision of the trial court, a jury, or an administrative agency from which an appeal was taken to the trial court which had decided a significant issue and a review of the interlocutory order may terminate the litigation, substantially ...

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