Submitted: October 11, 2019
Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware C. A. No.
VALIHURA, VAUGHN, and TRAYNOR, Justices.
L. VALIHURA, JUSTICE.
consideration of the parties' briefs and the record on
the appeal, it appears to the Court that:
appeal arises from a Superior Court order, dated April 17,
2019, dismissing the appellant's complaint under 10
Del. C. § 8803(b). The appellant, Sonja Taylor,
is a former employee of the appellee, Department of Services
for Children, Youth, and Their Families ("DSCYF").
After her termination in 2009, Taylor filed multiple lawsuits
against DSCYF and other parties in the United States District
Court for the District of Delaware and the Superior Court.
Taylor alleged, among other things, that her termination was
the result of gender discrimination, disability
discrimination, and retaliation.
2012, the District Court dismissed most of Taylor's
claims against DSCYF based on Delaware's sovereign
immunity under the Eleventh Amendment of the United States
Constitution. In 2015, the District Court granted
summary judgment for DSCYF on Taylor's remaining claims
that she was discharged as a result of gender discrimination
and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
2000(e). In 2016, the Superior Court granted
DSCYF's motion to dismiss Taylor's complaint based on
the statute of limitations, res judicata, and collateral
April 3, 2019, Taylor filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against DSCYF and two DSCYF employees in the
Superior Court. After granting Taylor's motion to proceed
in forma pauperis, the Superior Court dismissed the
complaint under 10 Del. C. § 8803(b). The
Superior Court also enjoined Taylor from filing future claims
without leave of court. This appeal followed.
appeal, Taylor argues that the Superior Court erred in
dismissing her complaint and in enjoining her from filing
future litigation without leave of the court. She also makes
new allegations against DSCYF and others that we will not
consider for the first time on appeal. After careful
consideration of Taylor's arguments, we conclude that the
Superior Court's judgment should be affirmed.
Under § 8803(b), a trial court must review a complaint
once the plaintiff's application to proceed in forma
pauperis is granted. If the trial court determines that
the complaint is factually frivolous, malicious, or legally
frivolous and "and that even a pro se litigant, acting
with due diligence, should have found well settled law
disposing of issue(s) raised," then the complaint must
be dismissed. A claim is factually frivolous "where
the factual allegations of which are baseless, of little or
no weight, value or importance, not worthy of serious
attention or trivial." A claim is legally frivolous when
"based on an indisputably meritless legal
theory." A claim is malicious when it is
"designed to vex, injure or harass, or one which is
otherwise abusive of the judicial process or which realleges
pending or previously litigated claims." An order of
dismissal under § 8803(b) "shall specifically
identify whether the complaint was factually frivolous,
legally frivolous and/or malicious."
Although the dismissal order failed to specify whether the
complaint was factually frivolous, legally frivolous, or
malicious, it appears that the Superior Court concluded that
the claims were legally frivolous or malicious. As the
Superior Court recognized, Taylor asserted claims based on
her 2009 termination that were previously adjudicated in the
defendants' favor. Those claims were legally frivolous
and malicious under § 8803(b), and properly dismissed by
the Superior Court. The Superior Court also recognized that
it appeared Taylor was trying to assert new claims arising
from events since her termination. The Superior Court did not
err in dismissing those claims on the basis that the relevant
allegations in the complaint only referred to non-parties.
light of these findings, the Superior Court did not err in
enjoining Taylor from filing future complaints without leave
of court. Under § 8803(e), "[w]hen a court finds
that a litigant has abused the judicial process by filing
frivolous or malicious litigation, the court may enjoin that
litigant from filing future claims without leave of
court." Any future claims from an enjoined litigant must
be accompanied by an affidavit containing the certifications
required by § 8803(e).
Contrary to Taylor's contentions, the Superior Court
injunction is not a revocation of a Delaware Right to Sue
Notice under 19 Del. C. § 714(a). Under §
714(a), a person alleging a violation of the Delaware
Discrimination in Employment Act ("DDEA") "may
file a civil action in Superior Court, after exhausting the
administrative remedies provided herein and receipt of a
Delaware Right to Sue Notice acknowledging same." A
Delaware Right to Sue Notice "refers to a final
acknowledgement of the charging party's exhaustion of the
administrative remedies provided herein and written
notification to the charging party of a corresponding right
to commence a lawsuit in Superior Court." This language
does not entitle the recipient of a Delaware Right to Sue
Notice to a particular outcome or result in the Superior
Court. Nor does it allow the recipient to abuse the judicial
process by filing repetitive claims that were previously