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Advanced Exteriors v. Black

Superior Court of Delaware

August 26, 2019

Advanced Exteriors, a Company Doing Business in the State of Delaware, and David Moncavage
v.
April Black and Cyndee Martin,

          DATE SUBMITTED: May 5, 2019

          Taylor Trapp, Esq. Tunnell & Raysor, P.A.

         Dear Mr. Moncavage and Ms. Trapp:

         Presently before the Court is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas brought by David Moncavage ("Appellant"). On January 28, 2019, Appellant filed an appeal of the Court of Common Pleas' determination to accept the Commissioner's Recommendation and to deny Appellant's Motion to Vacate Default Judgment. April Black and Cyndee Martin ("Respondents") opposed the Motion to Vacate Default Judgment, and an Order was issued by the Court of Common Pleas accepting the Commissioner's Recommendation and denying Appellants Motion to Vacate Default Judgment. Appellant seeks to reverse the Court of Common Pleas' decision. The Court AFFIRMS the decision below for the reasons discussed below.

         Procedural and Factual Background

         The original Complaint in this matter was brought by Respondents against Appellant and Advanced Exteriors. The original Complaint was filed in the Court of Common Pleas on May 2, 2018. The Complaint sought to collect damages from Appellant and Advanced Exteriors for breach of contract, anticipatory breach of contract, conversion and fraud for failing to complete contracted, and substantially paid for, home improvements. Respondents served Appellant and Advanced Exteriors with the Complaint on May 16, 2018.

         Appellant and Advanced Exteriors had until June 5, 2018, to file an Answer or otherwise responsive pleading or enter an appearance. Appellant and Advanced Exteriors failed to file an Answer or any type of document and failed to have an appearance entered on their behalf prior to June 5, 2018. On June 8, 2018, Respondents filed Directions for Entry of Judgment by Default against Appellant and Advanced Exteriors. On June 8, 2018, the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas entered Default Judgment against Appellant and Advanced Exteriors for $49, 403.50.

         On June 13, 2018, Appellant filed a Motion to Vacate Default Judgment. The Motion to Vacate Default Judgment was the first communication that Appellant or Advanced Exteriors had with the Court of Common Pleas. The Motion to Vacate Default Judgment states that it was filed on behalf of both Appellant and Advanced Exteriors and was signed by Appellant.

         On July 11, 2018, the Court of Common Pleas mailed Appellant, Advanced Exteriors, and Respondents notice of the date of the hearing for Appellant's Motion to Vacate Default Judgment. The Notice stated that the hearing was to be held on August 30, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. The Court held the hearing for Appellant's Motion to Vacate Default Judgment on August 30, 2018. As of 10:01 a.m. on August 30, 2018, neither Appellant nor a representative for Advanced Exteriors appeared at the hearing. The hearing was before Commissioner Donald R. Bucklin, and the Commissioner noted on the record that Appellant personally called the court the day prior to the hearing and confirmed the time and date of the hearing.

         On August 30, 2018, the Commissioner recommended that the Court of Common Pleas deny Appellant's Motion to Vacate Default Judgment. The Commissioner reasoned that since neither Appellant nor Advanced Exteriors appeared at the hearing to argue the Motion to Vacate Default Judgment, then the Motion should be denied. The Commissioner filed his Recommendation on September 11, 2018. On September 25, 2018, Appellant filed an appeal of the Commissioner's Recommendation to the Court of Common Pleas. Appellant argued that he had never received written notice of the scheduled hearing date.

         On January 11, 2019, the Court of Common Pleas affirmed the Commissioner's Recommendation in a written Order. The Court of Common Pleas reviewed the Commissioner's Recommendation de novo and accepted it. The Court of Common Pleas reasoned that Appellant's contention that he had not received notice of the hearing was contradicted by the Court docket's recordation that written notice was mailed to all parties on July 11, 2018. Furthermore, at the motion hearing, the Commissioner specifically noted that Appellant had called the Court the day prior to the hearing to confirm both the time and date of the hearing. Therefore, the Court of Common Pleas found no basis for relief accepted the Recommendation of the Commissioner, and ordered relief was to be denied.

         On January 28, 2019, Appellant filed an appeal of the Court of Common Pleas January 11, 2019, decision. Appellant argues that the Court of Common Pleas improperly denied his appeal of the Commissioner's Recommendation because: (1) the Court of Common Pleas took a one-sided view in favor of Respondents; (2) Respondents Counsel knowingly and willingly violated A.B.A. rule 4.1 and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 60(3); (3) the Court of Common Pleas failed to address Appellant's argument that Respondents' Counsel committed fraud on the Court because she named Advanced Exteriors as a company when it was actually a sole proprietorship; (4) Court of Common Pleas used false information from the Commissioner's Recommendation that Appellant contradicted the Court files; (5) the Court of Common Pleas used false information that the Appellant called the Court the day before the hearing to confirm the date and time; and (6) the Court of Common Pleas improperly and falsely stated that Appellant never filed a response to Respondents' Complaint.

         Discussion

         The question presented in this appeal is a very limited one: Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying Appellant's Motion to Vacate Default Judgment because of ...


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