Articles Posted in Consumer Law

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Appellee The Bank of New York Mellon, f/k/a The Bank of New York brought a foreclosure proceeding against Appellants J.M. and and Kathy Shrewsbury. The Bank was not the original mortgagee; it received the Shrewsbury mortgage by an assignment from the original mortgagee. The Shrewsburys answered the complaint asserting that the note representing the debt secured by the mortgage had not been assigned to The Bank. They further asserted that since the note had not been assigned to The Bank, it did not have the right to enforce the underlying debt and, therefore, did not have the right to foreclose on the mortgage. The Superior Court rejected the Shrewsburys' argument and granted summary judgment to The Bank. The narrow question presented on appeal was whether a party holding a mortgage must have the right to enforce the obligation secured by the mortgage in order to conduct a foreclosure proceeding. After review, the Supreme Court held that a mortgage assignee must be entitled to enforce the underlying obligation which the mortgage secures in order to foreclose on the mortgage. Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Shrewsbury v. The Bank of New York Mellon" on Justia Law

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In 2003, a default judgment was entered in the Court of Common Pleas against appellant Sharon Knott, in favor of appellee LVNV Funding, LLC. The Creditor did not attempt to execute on the judgment for more than nine years, until the Creditor moved to refresh the judgment in 2012. Throughout the proceedings, Knott argued that 10 Del. C. sec. 5072 acted acts as a statute of limitations that requires the holder of a judgment to seek to execute on the judgment within the first five years after the judgment is entered. The Superior Court rejected that argument, relying on a decision of a Commissioner finding that the five year limit in 5072 did not operate as a statute of limitations, but was merely a time period after which a judgment creditor had to affirmatively ask the Superior Court to refresh the judgment in its discretion, rather than the judgment creditor being entitled to execute on the judgment as of right. At oral argument on appeal, the parties acknowledged for the first time that perhaps the relevant statute was actually 10 Del. C. sec. 5073. But Knott argued that the result was the same under either statute, because both statutes imposed a five year period of limitations on the collection of judgments. Disagreeing with Knott's argument, the Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court. View "Knott v. LVNV Funding, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a dispute over certain property subject to a foreclosure. At issue was whether the parol evidence rule required that a person who claimed to hold a "purchase money mortgage" must prove his purchase money mortgage holder status solely by reference to the mortgage instrument itself. The court concluded that, in this case, the recorded deed and purchase money mortgage established that the sellers' mortgage satisfied, at least prima facie, all three requirements of 25 Del. C. 2108. Moreover, the mortgage contained no subordination language that would relinquish priority to the third party lenders. Therefore, the presumption that the sellers' mortgage was a purchase money mortgage entitled to statutory priority standards stood unrebutted. By applying the parol evidence rule to reach a contrary conclusion, the Superior Court erred as a matter of law. View "Galantino v. Baffone" on Justia Law

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ConAgra Foods, Inc. ("ConAgra") sued Lexington Insurance, Co. ("Lexington") alleging breach of contract and breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing. ConAgra's claims arose from the alleged 2007 contamination of certain Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter products that ConAgra manufactured. ConAgra subsequently sought coverage under its insurance policy with Lexington for personal injury claims arising from its contaminated products and Lexington denied coverage. At issue was whether the provision in the insurance policy provided coverage in light of the "lot or batch" provision in the policy. The court held that the "lot or batch" provision was ambiguous where, under one of the two reasonable interpretations, Lexington's duties to defend and indemnify were triggered. The court also held that, because the policy arguably provided coverage to ConAgra, Lexington's duty to defend was thereby triggered when ConAgra satisfied the applicable "retained limit" for a single "occurrence." Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded to ascertain the intent underlying the ambiguous policy language for purposes of determining whether there was ultimate policy coverage.