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Katz v. Maffett

Superior Court of Delaware

January 9, 2020

BERNARD KATZ, Plaintiff,
v.
SIDNEY MAFFETT, Defendant.

          Submitted: November 23, 2019

         Upon Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment GRANTED.

          ORDER

          Honorable Andrea L. Rocanelli, Judge

         Upon consideration of Defendant's motion for summary judgment; the opposition thereto filed by Plaintiff; the facts, arguments, and authorities set forth by the parties; the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure; statutory and decisional law; and the entire record in this case, the Court hereby finds as follows:

         1. Plaintiff is an individual who controls a limited liability company ("Buyer Entity"). Defendant is an individual who is the managing member of a limited liability company ("Seller Entity"). A limited liability company is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its members.[1]

         2. Buyer Entity purchased a parcel of real property ("Property") from Seller Entity pursuant to a written sale agreement on July 10, 2014 ("Sale"). Plaintiff executed the sale agreement on behalf of Buyer Entity, and Defendant executed the sale agreement on behalf of Seller Entity. To fund the purchase, Buyer and Plaintiff co-signed a purchase money note for $500, 000 in favor of Seller Entity.

         3. On June 13, 2019, Plaintiff filed this action asserting one claim of misrepresentation in connection with the Sale. The Complaint alleges that (1) Defendant sold the Property to Plaintiff, (2) Defendant intentionally concealed rust build-up on the roof of a warehouse located on the Property to induce Plaintiff to purchase the Property "as is," (3) Defendant knew or should have known that the warehouse was in violation of two sections of the City of Wilmington Building Code, and (4) Plaintiff would not have purchased the Property had Defendant disclosed the rust build-up and building code violations to Plaintiff prior to settlement.

         4. Defendant initially filed the instant motion as a motion to dismiss but because Defendant submitted various supplemental materials with the motion, the Court converted Defendant's motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment[2] and afforded the parties additional time to present all materials pertinent to such a motion.

         5. The Court may grant summary judgment only where the moving party can "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."[3] A genuine issue of material fact is one that "may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party."[4] The moving party bears the initial burden of proof and, once that is met, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to show that a material issue of fact exists.[5] At the motion for summary judgment phase, the Court must view the facts "in the light most favorable to the non-moving party."[6] Summary judgment is only appropriate if Plaintiff's claim lacks evidentiary support such that no reasonable jury could find in Plaintiff's favor.[7]

         6. Defendant asserts four grounds for granting the motion: (1) Plaintiff lacks standing to bring his claim because Plaintiff was not the buyer; (2) Plaintiff's claim is not properly brought against Defendant because Defendant was not the seller; (3) the Complaint does not plead misrepresentation with sufficient particularity, as is required by Superior Court Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b);[8] and (4) Plaintiff's claim is barred by the applicable three-year statute of limitations.

         7. Plaintiff opposes Defendant's motion.

         8. The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff purchased the Property from Defendant; however, the written sale agreement states that the transaction occurred between Buyer Entity and Seller Entity, and Plaintiff has produced no evidence to the contrary.

         9. To succeed in an intentional misrepresentation claim, [9] a plaintiff must prove the following:

(1) the defendant falsely represented or omitted facts that the defendant had a duty to disclose, (2) the defendant knew or believed that the representation was false or made the representation with a reckless indifference to the truth, (3) the defendant intended to induce the plaintiff to act or refrain from acting, (4) the plaintiff acted in ...

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