Submitted: December 17, 2018
Appeal from the Decisions of the Court of Common Pleas
HONORABLE ANDREA L. ROCANELLI
an appeal from the Court of Common Pleas on an Order granting
summary judgment and awarding costs to Defendant-Below. Upon
consideration of the facts, arguments, and legal authorities
set forth by the parties; statutory and decisional law; and
the entire record in this case, the Court hereby finds as
Appellant/Plaintiff-Below, Sharon Petty ("Petty"),
filed a civil lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas on
November 15, 2017, against Appellee/Defendant-Below, RCP III,
LLC ("RCP"), alleging damages arising from
fraudulently concealed defects in a vehicle purchased
"As-Is" on July 14, 2017.
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds that Petty
failed to answer written discovery or identify expert
witnesses. At a hearing on the motion, the Court of Common
Pleas advised Petty that expert testimony was necessary to
support her claims in light of the purchase being an
"As-Is" transaction.The trial was rescheduled to
permit Petty additional time to obtain an expert.
Petty responded to RCP's Request for Interrogatories,
identifying seven individuals purported to be experts. After
contacting the named individuals, it was revealed to counsel
for RCP that many of the individuals had no knowledge of
Petty and that none of the individuals were experts planning
to testify on her behalf.
filed a Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment and a Motion for
Costs and Fees. Oral argument was scheduled for August 10,
2018. Petty failed to appear. The Court of Common Pleas
granted the Motion for Summary Judgment and awarded costs and
fees to RCP.
Petty now appeals from the decision granting summary judgment
in favor of RCP.
response, RCP argues that the Court of Common Pleas properly
granted summary judgment for failure to identify expert
witnesses and failure to appear for oral argument.
considering an appeal from the Court of Common Pleas,
"this Court sits as an intermediate appellate
court." The appellate role of this Court is
limited to correcting legal error and determining whether
factual findings are "sufficiently supported by the
record and are the product of an orderly and logical
deductive process." The decision of the Court of Common
Pleas granting summary judgment is entitled to a de
novo review by this Court. A decision granting summary
judgment will be affirmed if it appears from the record, in a
light most favorable to the non-moving party, "that
there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." A motion for summary judgment is properly
granted against a party who "fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial."
Court of Common Pleas properly held that expert testimony was
required to support Petty's claims that there were
defects in the vehicle which were allegedly fraudulently
concealed. Under Delaware law, a vehicle sold
"As-Is" excludes all warranties, either express or
implied. In order for a plaintiff to prove there
was a defect in the vehicle which the seller knew or should
have known about at the time of the sale, expert testimony is
required. Where "the Appellant has failed to
produce an expert opinion when issues involving the standard
of care, defects, or proximate cause relate to matters
outside the common knowledge of the jury," summary
judgment is appropriate.
Court recognizes that self-represented litigants may be held
to a less stringent standard in presenting their cases under
certain circumstances.However "[l]itigants, whether
represented by counsel or appearing pro se, must
diligently prepare their cases for trial or risk dismissal
for failure to prosecute."Indeed, "[t]here is
no different set of rules for pro se plaintiffs, and
the trial court should not sacrifice the orderly and
efficient administration of justice to accommodate the
This Court also finds that the Court of Common Pleas'
decision granting RCP's Motion for Costs and Fees was
appropriate. Delaware law provides for an award of costs to
the prevailing party in a civil action. The Court of
Common Pleas has jurisdiction to award costs as a matter of
course pursuant to Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule ...