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Stella v. Roberts

Superior Court of Delaware

October 15, 2019

ROBERT M. STELLA, Plaintiff,
v.
RUTH ROBERTS, Defendant.

          Submitted: 8/13/2019

         Upon Defendant's Motion to Vacate Order for Summary Judgment. Denied.

          R. Eric Hacker, Esq. and Robert G. Gibbs, Esq., Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Scott Wilcox, Esq. and Ryan Adams, Esq., Attorneys for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STOKES, R. J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Defendant Ruth Roberts's ("Defendant") Motion to Vacate Order for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff Robert Stella ("Plaintiff) opposes the motion.

         For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Vacate Order for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff took ownership of the property in dispute in 2017 through a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure from the former owner. Plaintiff later became aware that Defendant was occupying the property and made attempts to remove Defendant. Defendant has refused to vacate because she does not remember signing the deed to her property to the former owner, disputing the original conveyance.

         Defendant does not have a lease with Plaintiff nor has Defendant paid any rent. Plaintiff has not given permission or authority for the Plaintiff to occupy the property. Plaintiff has been unsuccessful in taking possession of the property, bringing the parties before this Court.

         On June 15, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint with this Court for Action in Ejectment (Count I) and for Monetary Damages (Count II). Plaintiff later filed a Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Count II and a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to Count I. Defendant did not provide a response to Plaintiffs motion.

         On June 24, 2019, this Court held the Pre-Trial Conference pursuant to the Scheduling Order. Defendant failed to appear. The Court granted Plaintiffs Motion to Dismiss Count II. In addition, Plaintiffs Motion for Partial Summary Judgment was changed to Full Summary Judgment and also granted. The day after, Defendant moved to vacate the order granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff. Counsel thereafter, entered their appearance on Defendant's behalf and filed briefs on the issue.

         Defendant does not dispute that she failed to attend the Pre-Trial Conference, however, she claims that it was the result of her mistaken belief that the case had ended. Defendant claims that upon receiving notice that Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Count II, she believed that the case had ended.

         Defendant asserts that due to her husband's health issues, his subsequent death, her age and health problems, and her inability to retain counsel at the time, she was confused by the judicial process. ...


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