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Gellert Scali Busenkell & Brown LLC v. Country Life Holmes LLC

Superior Court of Delaware

December 16, 2019

Gellert Scali Busenkell & Brown, LLC,
v.
Country Life Holmes, LLC, et al.,

          Art C. Aranilla, Esquire Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Coggin

          Aaron E. Moore, Esquire (Pro Hac Vice) Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Coggin

          Patrick K. Gibson, Esquire Ippoliti Law Group

          VIVIAN L. MEDINILLA JUDGE

         Dear Counsel:

         In March of 2016, Defendants retained the legal services of Plaintiff Gellert Scali Busenkell & Brown, LLC[1] (Plaintiff). Plaintiff filed claims against Defendants [2] for unpaid monies allegedly owed for legal services rendered. In response, Defendants filed counterclaims alleging two counts of legal malpractice and respondeat superior. Plaintiff moves for dismissal under Superior Court Civil Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. After consideration of all pleadings and oral arguments on November 18, 2019, for the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs Motion is GRANTED.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On March 1, 2016, Defendants retained Plaintiff to represent them in their efforts to restructure commercial loans and lines of credit that Defendants had through Fulton Bank, N.A. ("Fulton"). After unsuccessful efforts, Fulton instituted legal proceedings against Defendants for the repayment of over $6 million in unpaid loans. Fulton retained counsel to prosecute various civil actions.[3] Plaintiff defended these actions on behalf of Defendants including disputing the accuracy of the amounts owed to Fulton.[4]

         In September of 2018, Defendants terminated Plaintiffs services and retained another law firm. Three months later, Defendants resolved the Fulton matter through mediation on December 14, 2018 and paid $6, 730, 578.71. This included, in relevant part, payment to Fulton in full satisfaction of all obligations under the loans, and the payment of Fulton's legal fees and litigation expenses.

         On March 22, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants seeking approximately $124, 000 for unpaid fees related to alleged legal services rendered in the Fulton matter. On June 19, 2019, in addition to the Answer and Affirmative Defenses, Defendants filed these counterclaims for legal malpractice related to the representation of attorneys Charles J. Brown III, Esquire and Michael Busenkell, Esquire (Attorneys Brown and Busenkell) (Count I), and under a theory of respondeat superior against their firm (Count II). Defendants allege strategic and procedural errors committed in defending the Fulton action prevented Defendants from obtaining a more favorable outcome that entitles them to damages "in excess of$l, 000, 000.000."[5]

         On September 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Dismiss under Superior Court Civil Rule 12(b)(6). On October 24, 2019, Defendants filed their response. On October 31, 2019, Plaintiff filed its Reply. The Court heard oral argument on November 18, 2019. The matter is ripe for review.

         Standard of Review

         On a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim under Superior Court Civil Rule 12(b)(6), all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint must be accepted as true.[6] Even vague allegations are considered well plead if they give the opposing party notice of a claim.[7] The Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party;[8] however, it will not "accept conclusory allegations unsupported by specific facts," nor will it "draw unreasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party."[9] Dismissal of a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) must be denied ...


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