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Del-One Federal Credit Union v. Sokolove

Superior Court of Delaware

December 9, 2019

DEL-ONE FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, f/k/a DELAWARE FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, d/b/a DEL-ONE, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT D. SOKOLOVE, Defendant.

          Submitted: 10/30/2019

         Upon Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. Granted.

          Kashif I. Chowdhry, Esq., Attorney for Plaintiff.

          Robert D. Sokolove, Pro Se Defendant.

          ORDER

          Richard F. Stokes, Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Del-One Federal Credit Union ("Plaintiff) filed this Motion for Summary Judgment against Robert D. Sokolove ("Defendant") in an action seeking damages against Defendant for breach of a loan agreement. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case involves an alleged breach of a loan agreement Defendant entered into with Plaintiff. In January, 2014 Defendant executed the Loan Application, Credit Agreement, and Security Agreement (collectively, the "Loan Documents") with Plaintiff for a $20, 000 credit line. The Loan Documents required Defendant to make monthly payments of principal and interest. The Loan Documents also stated that Defendant would be in default should he fail to make a payment when it comes due.

         The Loan Documents provided Defendant with an open line of credit in the amount of $20, 000 at an interest rate of 9.90 percent. Defendant utilized the line of credit between April, 2014 and May, 2017. During this time, Plaintiff claims that Defendant, though occasionally missing some payments, generally made his minimum payment. Plaintiff further claims beginning in May, 2017, aside from one payment of $13.08 in December, 2017, Defendant quit making payments. As of November, 2017, Defendant is in default. Currently, the Loan Documents carry a principal and interest balance of $23, 581.45.

         Plaintiff initiated this action in December, 2017, seeking damages against Defendant arising from his alleged breach. In August, 2018 the Court entered default judgment for Plaintiff under Rule 55.[1] Judgment was entered against Defendant for the total amount of $20, 349.96.[2]Defendant moved to vacate the judgment and judgment was vacated on the condition that Defendant file an answer to the complaint. Defendant filed his answer. Now, Plaintiff asks this Court to enter summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of $23, 581.45 plus prejudgment and post-judgment interest and attorney's fees and costs. Defendant did not respond to Plaintiffs motion. This Court will decide the motion on the pleading filed.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Superior Court Civil Rule 56(c), a party is entitled to summary judgment if the moving party can show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.[3] The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing no material issues of fact are present.[4] When a moving party meets his initial burden of showing that no material issues of fact exist, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that such issues do exist.[5] However, when the facts permit a reasonable person to draw but one inference, the question becomes one for decision as a matter of law.[6]

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff argues that the Loan Documents are clear and unambiguous and Defendant has not presented any defense or evidence that could present a material issue of fact to dispute the debts and obligations owed by him, entitling Plaintiff to summary judgment. Defendant did raise several affirmative defenses in his answer. The Court will briefly address the defenses raised by Defendant in his answer to Plaintiffs complaint.

         Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs claim is time barred by the applicable statute of limitations and the doctrine of laches. Plaintiff provides that Defendant was not in default until November, 2017. Plaintiff claims that Defendant began missing payments on the loan, thus failing to comply with his obligations under the loan, in May, 2017. "Delaware's contract statute of limitations bars any claims based on a promise to pay filed greater than three years from the accruing of the cause of action."[7] "The statute of limitations begins to run when the Plaintiffs claim accrues, at the moment of the wrongful act, or breach."[8] Plaintiff initiated this action in December, 2017, within months of the date Defendant began missing payments and a month following Defendant's default.

         Defendant also raises the doctrine of laches. "Unlike a statute of limitations, the equitable doctrine of laches does not prescribe a specific time period as unreasonable. Laches is an unreasonable delay by a party, without any specific reference to duration, in the enforcement of a right, and resulting in prejudice to the adverse party. An unreasonable delay can range from as long as several years to as little as one month"[9] "Laches bars an action in equity if: '[t]he plaintiff waited an unreasonable length of time before bringing the suit and ... the delay unfairly prejudices the defendant.' Therefore, laches generally requires proof of three elements: first, knowledge by the claimant; second, unreasonable delay in bringing the claim; and third, resulting prejudice to the defendant."[10] Plaintiff initiated this action a month following Defendant's default. Defendant was fully aware, as evidenced by the Loan Documents, of what constitutes a default and the consequences of a default. Furthermore, the doctrine of laches is an equitable defense, not available in this Court.[11] Therefore, because the statute of limitations would not bar Plaintiffs claim, Plaintiff is not time-barred from bringing this claim.

         Defendant also argues that Plaintiffs remedies are limited only by the security offered and because there was no security offered, Plaintiff is barred from recovery. The Court rejects this defense. The Loan Documents, which are signed by the Defendant, provide that Plaintiff can demand immediate payment of the entire unpaid balance and collateral can be applied towards the outstanding amount.[12] Defendant was aware, as evidenced by the Loan Documents, that Plaintiff could demand the entire unpaid balance in the event of a default. The Loan ...


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