June 14, 2019
decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions
Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.
Below— Superior Court of the State of Delaware, C.A.
STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and VAUGHN, Justices.
L. Valihura, Justice
consideration of the parties briefs and the record on
appeal, it appears to the Court that:
The plaintiff below-appellant, Michaela Cephas, filed this
notice of appeal from a Superior Court order granting the
motion for summary judgment filed by the defendant
below-appellee, Katrina Cephas. After careful
consideration of the parties arguments, we affirm the
Superior Courts judgment.
Katrina is Michaelas aunt. In 2002, after the death of
Michaelas mother following surgery, the Family Court named
Katrina the guardian of Michaelas person. Katrina filed, on
behalf of the estate and Michaela, a medical malpractice case
arising from the death of Michaelas mother. In 2004, Katrina
filed a petition for her appointment as guardian of
Michaelas property and approval of a settlement in the
Superior Court and the Court of Chancery. The petition was
granted and jurisdiction was transferred to the Court of
part of the settlement agreement, a lump sum was paid to
Katrina as next friend and guardian ad litem for Michaela.
The court order approving the settlement required this money
to be placed in a guardianship account for Michaela. The
settlement agreement also provided for the payment of $500 a
month to Katrina as guardian of Michaela until 2016. The
order approving the settlement did not refer to the monthly
payments. The payor paid the $500 a month to Katrina, not the
guardianship account for Michaela.
January 2007, the Family Court rescinded Katrinas
guardianship and returned Michaela to her fathers custody.
In 2012, Michaelas father asked the Office of the Register
in Chancery about replacing Katrina with himself as the
guardian of Michaelas property, but did not file a petition
to do so. In March 2016, a Court of Chancery Master granted
Katrina and Michaelas petition for the transfer of the
guardianship account funds to Michaela. Katrina was
discharged as guardian. Michaela signed a release
acknowledging that she had received all money owed to her by
Katrina and releasing Katrina from all suits concerning the
November 2016, Michaelas father sent a letter to the Court
of Chancery alleging that the $500 monthly payments were
intended for Michaelas benefit and that Katrina should not
have received those payments after the rescission of the
Family Court guardianship. Katrina responded to the
allegations. A Court of Chancery Master issued a report
concluding that Katrina had not breached her fiduciary duties
and that the release barred Michaelas claims against
Katrina. Michaelas father filed exceptions to the report.
February 7, 2017, the Court of Chancery affirmed the Masters
rulings on procedural grounds, not the substantive grounds in
the report. The Court of Chancery held that Michaelas father
lacked standing to assert the claims because Michaela was a
competent adult who could assert the claims in her own name.
If Michaela wished to pursue a claim for breach of fiduciary
duty, she could do so by initiating a new, separate action in
her own name. The Court of Chancery ruled that the affirmance
of the Masters report was without prejudice to Michaelas
right to pursue her claims in accordance with Court of
Chancery rules and procedures. Michaelas father sent a
letter to the Office of the Register in Chancery objecting to
the Court of Chancerys decision, which was returned to him
because the matter was closed.
March 30, 2017, Michaela filed a one-page complaint in the
Superior Court. She alleged that Katrina was not entitled to
the $59,500 (119 monthly payments of $500) she received while
Michaela was with her father. On June 22, 2017, Michaela
filed an amended complaint that included the Family Court
order rescinding guardianship and excerpts of the settlement
agreement and the order approving the settlement. After
answering the complaint, Katrina filed a motion for summary
judgment. The Superior Court granted the motion for summary
judgment on January 9, 2019. The Superior Court held there
was no breach of the settlement agreement, the issue ...