THE TOWN OF CAMDEN, a Municipal corporation of the State of Delaware, Plaintiff,
JAMES EDWARD GOLDSMITH, II, Defendant.
Submitted: September 25, 2019
Defendants' Motion to Set Aside the Monition Sale DENIED.
Eason Primos Judge.
the 20th day of November, 2019, having considered Defendant
James Goldsmith's (hereinafter "Mr. Goldsmith")
Motion to Set Aside the Monition Sale and the Town of
Camden's (hereinafter "the Town") Response; the
evidence, testimony, and arguments of the parties presented
at the hearing held on September 11, 2019; and the
supplemental letters filed by the parties on September 25,
2019, Defendant's Motion is DENIED.
Goldsmith purchased his home at 404 Commons Lane in Camden,
Delaware (hereinafter "the Property") in 1985. On
October 16, 2018, the Sheriff of Kent County (hereinafter
"the Sheriff) posted a Monition Notice declaring that
Mr. Goldsmith owed $2, 383.07 in taxes to the Town and
$150.00 in monition costs. On December 27, 2018, the Sheriff
posted notice that a monition sale of the property would
occur on January 29, 2019. Mr. Goldsmith did not contact the
Town between the time of receiving the Monition Notice and
receiving notice of the sale.
January 15, 2019, Mr. Goldsmith's wife, Sherri Goldsmith
(hereinafter "Mrs. Goldsmith"), spoke on the
telephone with the Town's attorney, William W. Pepper,
Sr., Esquire (hereinafter "Mr. Pepper"). Mr. Pepper
informed Mrs. Goldsmith of the amount that Mr. Goldsmith
would have to pay the Town in order to stop the monition
sale. At no point did Mr. Pepper tell Mrs. Goldsmith that the
sale had been cancelled.
January 25, 2019, Mrs. Goldsmith proceeded to the Town office
and submitted a cashier's check, payable to "The
Town of Camden," in the amount of $2, 383.07, to the
Town's Clerk, Jamie Fenske (hereinafter "Ms.
Fenske"). Mrs. Goldsmith also provided a $212.00 cash
payment to the Town. Mrs. Goldsmith testified at the hearing
that after she submitted these payments to Ms. Fenske, Ms.
Fenske called Mr. Pepper and put him on speakerphone and that
Mr. Pepper stated that the house would not be sold. Ms.
Fenske testified that she informed Mrs. Goldsmith that Mr.
Goldsmith still owed money to the Town, and that at no point
did she tell Mrs. Goldsmith that the sale had been cancelled.
January 25, 2019, Ms. Fenske sent an e-mail to
"firstname.lastname@example.org," directing the recipient to
"see attached." The e-mail attachment was a copy of the
Monition Vendex. On January 28, 2019, Ms. Fenske forwarded
the January 25 e- mail to Mrs. Goldsmith, because the first
e-mail had been sent to "an old
email."Mrs. Goldsmith replied that she was
"working on coming up with the difference. Who do I need
to make the bank check out to?" On January 30, 2019, Mrs.
Goldsmith e-mailed Ms. Fenske to inquire as to whether there
was a "drop box" in which she could place her
payment. On February 1, 2019, Ms. Fenske e-mailed
Mrs. Goldsmith, telling her that she should contact the
Sheriff because Mr. Goldsmith owed "additional
fees." At no point during the e-mail exchange did
Ms. Fenske indicate that the sale had been cancelled, nor did
Mrs. Goldsmith question whether the sale was scheduled to
proceed. Furthermore, Mrs. Goldsmith testified at the hearing
that she did not pay the outstanding fees prior to the sale
because she had "other things going on" and she
January 25, 2019, at 5:11 p.m., Frances Gauthier, Esquire
(hereinafter "Ms. Gauthier"), of the Legal Services
Corporation of Delaware e-mailed Mr. Pepper informing him
that her office was representing Mr. and Mrs.
Goldsmith.Ms. Gauthier indicated that she was aware
that her purported clients had paid the outstanding taxes
earlier that day, and asked Mr. Pepper to remove the Property
from the January 29 Sheriffs sale list and give Mr. and Mrs.
Goldsmith more time to pay the additional fees, which Ms.
Gauthier believed to be $150. On January 28, Mr. Pepper
responded that he had "passed [her] request along"
to the Town and attached a copy of the Monition Vendex,
informing her that "[t]he vendex is attached"
showing the "actual amount now owed." Shortly
thereafter, Mrs. Gauthier asked whether "the execution
costs" were Sheriffs fees, and if there was a
"reduction in execution costs if the sale [were]
cancelled." Later that day, Mr. Pepper wrote that
the Town was "moving forward with the
sale. However, based on communications between
Ms. Fenske and Mrs. Goldsmith, "it seem[ed]" to Mr.
Pepper that the matter would "be resolved before the
sale."  Mr. Pepper never wrote that the sale was
cancelled, nor did Ms. Gauthier indicate that she thought it
had been cancelled.
January 29, 2019, the Sheriffs sale took place, and DB
Capital Investments, LLC, purchased the Property for $60,
000. The sale was confirmed on February 22, 2019, and the
right of redemption expired on April 23, 2019. Mr. Goldsmith
did not redeem the Property. The deed was recorded on May 24,
case where a property owner is attempting to set aside a
monition sale, the reviewing court will "only consider
challenges that strike at the heart of the [c]ourt's
jurisdiction in the first instance." Upon review,
the court must balance the constitutional principles of due
process and fundamental fairness with the purpose of
confirmation, which is to provide the purchaser with
assurance of absolute title to the property. The party
seeking to set aside the monition sale bears the burden of
establishing a basis for relief.
The Court Rejects Mr. Goldsmith's Arguments of
Misrepresentation and Inadequate Sale Price.
Goldsmith argues in his Motion that the
"misrepresentation and misconduct" of Mr. Pepper
and Ms. Fenske led him to believe that the monition sale had
been cancelled, and that it was for this reason that he
failed to pay the amount he owed to the Town. However, the
evidence does not support this proposition. Indeed, the
conduct of the Goldsmiths themselves demonstrated that the
sale had not been cancelled.
Pepper and Ms. Fenske testified that they never told Mr. or
Mrs. Goldsmith that the Monition Sale had been cancelled, and
the Court finds their testimony credible. Additionally, in
the e-mail exchange between Ms. Fenske and Mrs. Goldsmith,
Mrs. Goldsmith was notified of the outstanding balance and
made indications that she wished to pay it. Further, in
the e-mail exchange between Mr. Pepper and Ms. Gauthier, Mr.
Pepper provided the Monition Vendex and told Ms. Gauthier on
January 28 that the Town was "moving forward with the
sale." If Ms. Gauthier was acting as the
attorney for Mr. and Mrs. Goldsmith, her knowledge that the
sale had not been cancelled was imputed to her
clients. However, even if Ms. Gauthier was not
acting as the Goldsmiths' attorney, Mr. Goldsmith has
failed to explain to the Court why Ms. Gauthier, after being
informed by Mrs. Goldsmith that she (Mrs. Goldsmith) had made
the January 25 payment, would be asking Mr. Pepper to cancel
the sale if Mr. Pepper and Ms. Fenske had informed Mrs.
Goldsmith at the time she made the payment that the sale had
Goldsmith also argues that the monition sale should be set
aside because the Property sold for an amount far less than
its worth. However, Mr. Goldsmith failed to provide competent
evidence to support this contention. Furthermore, this
argument was raised after the sale was
confirmed. Therefore, this argument is rejected.
The Court Rejects Mr. Goldsmith's Supplemental Argument