VINCENT N. STEERS AND JANULYN MCKANIC-STEERS, Appellants/Defendants Below,
SUMMERFIELD HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION INC., Appellee/Plaintiff Below.
Submitted May 7, 2019
Janulyn McKanic-Steers, Pro Se for Appellant/Defendant
Chad J. Toms, Esq. for Appellee/Plaintiff Below
ORDER ON APPEAL
Kenneth S. Clark, Jr., Judge
Justice of the Peace Court's Order denying Appellant
Steers' Motion to Vacate Default Judgment is
AFFIRMED and REMANDED.
History and Facts
Summerfield Homeowners Association initiated this action in
the Justice of the Peace Court on August 31, 2016, seeking a
judgment against Appellant Vincent Steers for unpaid
assessments on property owned in Ocean View, Delaware. On
November 15, 2016, the Justice of the Peace Court entered a
Default Judgment against Appellant Vincent Steers.
Janulyn McKanic-Steers filed a letter with the Justice of the
Peace Court on December 1, 2016, stating that Vincent Steers
was deceased and requesting that the Default Judgment be
vacated. In response to Appellant McKanic-Steers' letter,
Appellee filed a motion to substitute parties. A hearing was
held on December 28, 2016 to consider Appellee's motion
to substitute parties and Appellant McKanic-Steers'
request to vacate the default judgment. Appellant
McKanic-Steers did not attend the motion hearing. At the
motion hearing Appellee agreed to vacate the default judgment
and was granted leave to file an alias complaint naming
Appellant McKanic-Steers as Defendant.
Alias Complaint was filed on January 31, 2018. On April 13,
2018 the Justice of the Peace Court entered a Default
Judgment against Appellant McKanic-Steers. Appellant
McKanic-Steers filed a Motion to Vacate Default Judgment on
May 2, 2018. A motion hearing was held on July 31, 2018.
Appellant McKanic-Steers failed to appear at the hearing and
the Justice of the Peace Court denied Appellant's motion.
filed this Notice of Appeal on August 13, 2018 and a motion
hearing was held on March 7, 2019. This Court reserved
decision to allow the parties to engage in mediation. The
Court was notified Appellee rescinded its authorization for
mediation on May 7, 2019.
denial of an application to vacate a default judgment
possesses all the attributes of finality, and thus, is
subject to appeal. The Delaware Supreme Court has held that
an appeal of a denial to vacate a default judgment "will
be a review of the order denying the motion and will not
constitute a trial de novo." Defendant failed
to timely file an appeal of the April 13, 2018 entry of
default judgment in the court below, but did file a timely
review of the lower court's denial of her Motion to
Vacate. Review in this Court therefore is limited to the
issue of whether the trier-of-fact abused its discretion in
denying the motion to vacate the default judgment. An abuse
of discretion will only be found "when the trial judge
exceed[s] the bounds of reason in view of the circumstances
and has so ignored recognized rules of law or practice so as
to produce injustice."
record reveals that Appellant's motion below was denied
due to Appellant's failure to appear at the July 31, 2018
motion hearing and prosecute the motion. Pursuant to Ney
v. Polite, this Court's jurisdiction on appeal
permits only review of the magistrate's order denying
relief and not of the underlying suit itself. Here, the
Appellant failed to appear at the hearing to vacate judgment.
Therefore, there is no basis for ...