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Shahin v. Sam's East, Inc.

Supreme Court of Delaware

April 4, 2019

NINA SHAHIN, Appellant Below, Appellant,
v.
SAM'S EAST, INC. and SYNCHRONY BANK, Appellees Below, Appellees.

          Submitted: January 25, 2019

          Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware C.A. No. K18A-01-001

          Before STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and VAUGHN, Justices.

          ORDER

          Leo E. Strine, Jr. Chief Justice

         Upon consideration of the parties' briefs and the record below, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) This appeal arises from the Superior Court's affirmance of the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas. Having carefully reviewed the record, we find no error or abuse of the discretion in the Superior Court's decision. Accordingly, we affirm the Superior Court's judgment. As a result of the appellant's vexatious and frivolous conduct, we also award the appellees the reasonable expenses, including attorneys' fees, that they incurred in this appeal.

         (2) On November 14, 2016, the appellant, Nina Shahin, filed a complaint against the appellees, Sam's East, Inc. ("Sam's Club") and Synchrony Bank in the Court of Common Pleas. She alleged that she was unable to buy a $9.98 Arctic Trunk Organizer advertised by Sam's Club in August 2016 because Sam's Club ran out of the item. She alleged that Synchrony Bank wrongly placed a hold on her Sam's Club Master Card for fraudulent activity two weeks later that led to her cancelling the card. She sought damages of $20, 000 for damage to her credit standing, Sam's Club's poor service, insult, and humiliation.

         (3) Sam's Club and Synchrony Bank answered the complaint and asserted affirmative defenses. Shahin filed a variety of documents including objections to the participation of the defendants' attorneys, a motion for correction of the legal name of one defendant, and objections to Synchrony Bank's affirmative defenses. On March 23, 2017, the Court of Common Pleas granted the motion for correction of the legal name and denied the remaining motions. On April 11, 2017, Shahin filed objections to the March 23rd order and to the Court of Common Pleas judge presiding over the case.

         (4) On April 12, 2017, the defendants informed Shahin that they would move for summary judgment and might seek attorney's fees and costs if she did not voluntarily dismiss her complaint. They provided Shahin with documents showing the Sam's Club advertisement stated that only limited quantities were available, Synchrony Bank placed a hold on her Sam's Club Master Card for suspicious charges in Colorado (as authorized by the credit card agreement), and Synchrony Bank attempted to notify Shahin of the reason for the hold. In response, Shahin stated, among other things, that there could be no charges in Colorado because she had never been there.

         (5) On June 14, 2017, the defendants filed motions for summary judgment. Sam's Club argued that it was entitled to summary judgment because it did not breach the membership agreement, the sales notice stated that only limited quantities were available, Shahin could not prove any of her claims, and Shahin did not suffer any injury. Synchrony Bank argued that it was entitled to summary judgment because it did not breach the terms of the parties' agreement, it did not act fraudulently in connection with the Sam's Club sale, and it did not conspire with Sam's Club. In response, Shahin filed motions for sanctions, alleging that the motions for summary judgment were full of perjury and fraud.

         (6) On June 28, 2017, the Court of Common Pleas held a pretrial teleconference. After hearing arguments from the defendants and Shahin, the Court of Common Pleas granted the motions for summary judgment, denied Shahin's motions for sanctions, and denied Shahin's additional objections. After expressing anger at the rulings, Shahin left the teleconference before the court had adjourned. Shahin subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration and motions for sanctions against the defendants' attorneys.

         (7) On August 17, 2017, the Court of Common Pleas entered an order denying Shahin's objections to the judge, denying Shahin's motions for sanctions, granting the motions for summary judgment, and denying Shahin's motion for reconsideration. On August 28, 2017, Shahin filed a motion for access to the tape of the June 28, 2017 hearing because she claimed that the transcript contained unspecified inaccuracies that might be racketeering under 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1)(B). Shahin also filed a motion to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.[1] On October 11, 2017, the Court of Common Pleas denied Shahin's motion for access to the tape of the June 28, 2017 hearing and the motion to transfer. Shahin filed a motion for reconsideration, which the Court of Common Pleas denied on December 19, 2017.

         (8) On January 2, 2018, Shahin filed a notice of appeal in the Superior Court. Shahin attached the December 19, 2017 order to her notice of appeal. She identified the falsification of the June 28, 2017 transcript and the denial of access to the tape recording of the hearing as the grounds for her appeal.

         (9) After briefing, the Superior Court held that the Court of Common Pleas did not err in denying Shahin's motion for reconsideration of the order denying her motion for access to the tape recording because Shahin merely rehashed earlier accusations of racketeering and misconduct. This appeal followed. On November 29, 2018, Shahin filed a motion demanding evidence that the appellees' counsel mailed her the answering brief as stated in the certificate of service. The appellees' counsel stated that they had mailed the brief to Shahin's address and had ...


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