Campos v. Daisy Construction Co.

Jose Campos was injured while working for Daisy Construction Company. While Campos was receiving total disability payments from Daisy, Daisy performed an investigation of his social security number at the request of its workers' compensation insurance carrier and discovered that Campos was an undocumented worker. When Campos could not provide a valid number, Daisy terminated his employment. Around the same time, Daisy hired a doctor to re-evaluate Campos' medical condition. The doctor concluded that although Campos remained partially disabled, he could perform "light duty" work with restrictions. Daisy then filed a petition with the Industrial Accident Board to terminate Campos' total disability benefit payments. The Board granted Daisy's petition because Campos was physically capable of working and therefore was not totally disabled. The Board also found that Campos was not eligible for partial disability benefits, reasoning that Daisy had met its burden of showing that Campos had no decrease in earning capacity by testifying that Campos would be eligible for light duty jobs at Daisy at his pre-injury wage rate if he could provide a valid social security number. The Superior Court affirmed the Board's decision. After its review, the Delaware Supreme Court concluded the Board erred when it found that Campos was not eligible for partial disability benefits: "If we were to hold that Daisy's testimony constituted sufficient proof of job availability, an employer could always hire an undocumented worker, have him suffer a workplace injury, and then avoid partial disability benefit payments by 'discovering' his immigration status, offering to re-employ him if he could fix it, and claiming that a job is available to him at no loss in wages. This outcome would be contrary to the Workers' Compensation Act and our case law interpreting it, [...] which prevents employers from depriving undocumented workers of employment benefits. [...]Accordingly, Daisy must continue to pay partial disability payments until it can demonstrate that Campos has no decrease in earning power from his workplace injury, or until the statutory period for partial disability benefit eligibility expires. Federal restrictions that prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers may make it more difficult for Daisy to prove job availability, but any difficulty is appropriately borne by it as the employer, who must take the employee, Campos, as it hired him."View "Campos v. Daisy Construction Co." on Justia Law

The North River Insurance Co. v. Mine Safety Appliances Co.

Appellant North River Insurance Company challenged the Court of Chancery’s denial of its request for permanent injunctive relief. This multi-forum litigation concerns policies issued by North River to a safety products company, Mine Safety Appliances Company (MSA). North River issued thirteen policies to MSA covering periods from 1972 through 1986. MSA defended against thousands of personal injury claims allegedly caused by defects in its mine safety equipment. MSA seeks coverage under North River’s policies as well as from several other insurers. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether North River’s coverage under these policies was "triggered" (as a matter of Pennsylvania law), and was being litigated, along with its claims against other insurers in federal and state courts in Pennsylvania, the Delaware Superior Court and in certain later-filed cases in West Virginia. North River requested that the Court of Chancery permanently enjoin MSA from prosecuting the later-filed claims in West Virginia and from assigning to any tort claimants the right to recover under any insurance policy issued by North River to MSA. During the course of this appeal, North River narrowed its focus to the assignment issue. Finding no reversible error to the Court of Chancery's decision, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed.View "The North River Insurance Co. v. Mine Safety Appliances Co." on Justia Law

Lowther v. Delaware

Erin Lowther was arrested after an altercation with her sister-in-law Trisha. A grand jury issued a superseding indictment, charging Lowther with second degree assault, terroristic threatening and offensive touching. At trial, Lowther unsuccessfully moved to acquit on the terroristic threatening charge. The jury found Lowther guilty of assault and terroristic threatening, but not offensive touching. Lowther was sentenced to six years at Level V incarceration, eighteen months suspended at Level III probation for assault, and one year at Level V incarceration, suspended for one year at Level III probation for terroristic threatening. On appeal, she raised two issues: (1) the evidence presented against her at trial was insufficient to support the threatening charge; and (2) the trial court erred in instructing the jury with regard to the threatening charge. Finding no merit to these arguments, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment.View "Lowther v. Delaware" on Justia Law

The North River Insurance Co. v. Mine Safety Appliances Co.

Appellant North River Insurance Company appealed the Court of Chancery’s denial of its request for permanent injunctive relief. This multi-forum litigation concerned policies issued by North River to a safety products company, Mine Safety Appliances Company (“MSA”). North River issued thirteen policies to MSA covering periods from August 28, 1972 through April 1, 1986. MSA was defending against thousands of personal injury claims allegedly caused by defects in its mine safety equipment. MSA sought coverage under North River’s policies as well as from several other insurers. The issue this case presented for review was whether North River’s coverage under these policies was “triggered” (a matter of Pennsylvania law) was being litigated, along with its claims against other insurers, in federal and state courts in Pennsylvania, the Delaware Superior Court and in certain later-filed cases in West Virginia. North River requested that the Delaware Court of Chancery permanently enjoin MSA from prosecuting the later-filed claims in West Virginia and from assigning to any tort claimants the right to recover under any insurance policy issued by North River to MSA. During the course of this appeal, North River narrowed its focus to the assignment issue. Finding no reversible error in the Court of Chancery's denial, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision.View "The North River Insurance Co. v. Mine Safety Appliances Co." on Justia Law

Hansley v. Delaware

Defendant-Appellant Nicole Hansley was convicted by jury of Tier 4 Drug Dealing, Tier 5 Aggravated Possession, Possession of Cocaine, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. She raised two issues on appeal, one of which was conceded by the State. Hansley’s remaining claim was that the trial court erred by precluding Hansley from introducing relevant testimony of a former police officer that Hansley was a prostitute addicted to crack cocaine, thereby violating Hansley’s constitutional right to present a defense. Upon review, the Delaware Supreme Court found that the trial court erred by excluding relevant testimony in violation of the Delaware Rules of Evidence. Accordingly, the Court reversed. The Court did not reach Hansley’s constitutional argument.View "Hansley v. Delaware" on Justia Law

Hansley v. Delaware

Defendant-appellant Nicole Hansley was convicted by jury of Tier 4 Drug Dealing, Tier 5 Aggravated Possession, Possession of Cocaine, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Hansley raised two issued on appeal, one of which was conceded by the State. Her remaining claim was that the trial court erred by precluding Hansley from introducing relevant testimony of a former police officer that Hansley was a prostitute addicted to crack cocaine, thereby violating Hansley’s constitutional right to present a defense. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court found the trial court erred by excluding the testimony in violation of the Delaware Rules of Evidence, and accordingly, reversed.View "Hansley v. Delaware" on Justia Law

Fuller v. Delaware

Dana Fuller appealed a Family Court decision denying her petition for expungement of her juvenile record because she had committed three traffic violations as an adult. In this case, the Family Court held that Fuller's violations of Title 21, which governs motor vehicles, were "subsequent . . . adult convictions." But the Family Court has reached different conclusions in other cases as to whether a traffic violation under Title 21 of the Delaware Code is a subsequent adult conviction that precludes expungement of a juvenile record. On appeal, Fuller argued that Title 21 offenses were not "subsequent adult convictions" and the denial of her expungement was therefore erroneous. After review, the Supreme Court held that a "subsequent adult conviction” is a later conviction only for a crime in violation of Title 4, 7, 11, 16, or 23 of the Delaware Code, and does not include a violation of Title 21. Accordingly, we reverse the Family Court's decision.View "Fuller v. Delaware" on Justia Law

Zhurbin v. Delaware

Defendant Andrey Zhurbin was convicted by jury of leaving the scene of a collision after an accident that took place in a casino parking lot. On appeal, he argued that his conviction should have been vacated because the collision was on private property, and to have been charged under 21 Del. C. Sec. 4021, the collision should have taken place on a public highway. The Supreme Court affirmed, concluding Zhurbin misread the law: a collision can occur on public or private property to give rise to a charge (or conviction) under 21 Del. C. 4201. Furthermore, because Zhurbin did not raise this issue at trial, any failure of the trial court to grant a judgment of acquittal because of this issue had to be plain error, which the Supreme Court found it was not.View "Zhurbin v. Delaware" on Justia Law

Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Motors Liquidation Co. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank

The dispute pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit centered on the effect of a UCC termination statement – a “UCC-3 termination statement” – filed with the Delaware Secretary of State on behalf of General Motors Corporation. That termination statement, by its plain terms, purported to extinguish a security interest on the assets of General Motors held by a syndicate of lenders, including JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. But neither JPMorgan nor General Motors subjectively intended to terminate the term loan security interest when General Motors filed the termination statement. General Motors’ counsel for a separate “synthetic lease” financing transaction, Mayer Brown LLP, had inadvertently included the term loan security interest on the termination statement that it filed in the process of unwinding the synthetic lease. According to JPMorgan, no one at General Motors, Mayer Brown, or Simpson Thatcher Bartlett LLP (JPMorgan’s counsel for the synthetic lease transaction) noticed this error, even though individuals at each organization reviewed the filing statement before the termination statement was filed. After General Motors filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, JPMorgan informed the unofficial committee of unsecured creditors that a UCC-3 termination statement relating to the term loan had been inadvertently filed. The Creditors Committee commenced a proceeding against JPMorgan in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York seeking, among other things, a determination that the filing of the UCC-3 termination statement was effective to terminate the term loan security interest and thus render JPMorgan an unsecured creditor on par with the other General Motors unsecured creditors. JPMorgan contested that argument, asserting that it had not authorized the termination statement releasing the term loan security interest, and that the statement was erroneously filed because no one at General Motors, JPMorgan, or the law firms working on the synthetic lease transaction recognized that the unrelated term loan security interest had been included on the statement. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the Bankruptcy Court found for JPMorgan on various grounds, including that JPMorgan had not empowered Mayer Brown to act as its agent in releasing the term loan security interest in the sense that it had only authorized Mayer Brown to file an accurate termination statement that released security interests properly related to the synthetic lease transaction. The Second Circuit certified a question of Delaware law to the Supreme Court in order to resolve the appeal of this case before it: "Under UCC Article 9(as adopted into Delaware law by Del. Code Ann. tit. 6, art. 9), for a UCC-3 termination statement to effectively extinguish the perfected nature of a UCC-1 financing statement, is it enough that the secured lender review and knowingly approve for filing a UCC-3 purporting to extinguish the perfected security interest, or must the secured lender intend to terminate the particular security interest that is listed on the UCC-3?" The Delaware Supreme Court answered under the assumption that the term "effectively extinguish" as used by the Second Circuit centered on whether reviewing the termination statement and knowingly approving it for filing had the effect specified in section 9-513 of the Delaware’s version of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which is that “the financing statement to which the termination statement relates ceases to be effective." On that assumption, the Delaware Court answered that "the unambiguous provisions of Delaware’s UCC dictate that the answer is that 'it [is] enough that the secured lender review and knowingly approve for filing a UCC-3 purporting to extinguish the perfected security interest.'" Under the Delaware UCC, parties in commerce are entitled to rely upon a filing authorized by a secured lender and assume that the secured lender intends the plain consequences of its filing.View "Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Motors Liquidation Co. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank" on Justia Law

EV3, Inc. v. Lesh, M.D., et al.

This case came before the Supreme Court on appeal of a jury verdict which found that ev3, Inc., the buyer of Appriva Medical, Inc., breached its contractual obligations to Appriva’s former shareholders, who gave up their shares in the merger. The merger agreement between ev3 and Appriva provided for the bulk of the payments to the Appriva shareholders to be contingent upon the timely accomplishment of certain milestones toward the approval and marketability of a medical device that Appriva was developing. After it became clear that the milestones were not going to be achieved, the former Appriva shareholders sued. At many points during the trial, ev3 attempted to convince the Superior Court that a non-binding letter of intent should not be used to interpret or contradict the clear terms of the merger agreement, but the Superior Court adhered to the contrary view advocated by Appriva. Appriva was permitted to argue to the jury that ev3 not only failed to act in good faith under the agreement, but that it breached a “promise” to honor the Funding Provision contained in the non-binding letter of intent. The jury agreed that ev3 had breached its contractual obligations and determined that ev3 owed Appriva the full amount of the milestone payments, $175 million. On appeal, ev3 argued that the Superior Court erred by permitting Appriva to argue that the Funding Provision in the non-binding letter of intent continued to bind ev3, and also that the non-binding letter of intent modified the “sole discretion” standard set forth in the agreement. After review, the Supreme Court concluded that the Superior Court erred by accepting Appriva’s position that the non-binding Funding Provision within the letter of intent was admissible to affect the meaning of the merger agreement. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "EV3, Inc. v. Lesh, M.D., et al." on Justia Law