New Castle Shopping, LLC v. Penn Mart Discount Liquors, Ltd., et al., No. 4257-VCL (Del. Ch., Oct. 27, 2009), read letter decision here.
[This ruling is among the first written decisions from the newest member of the Court, within the same month of his investiture. Here is an interview on this blog with the Court’s newest member.] A prior decision several years ago by the Court of Chancery, involving the same landlord but a different tenant in the same shopping center, was highlighted here.
Three issues were decided in this four-page letter ruling: (i) The Court allowed the complaint to be amended pursuant to Chancery Court Rule 15(a), and cited to copious cases to support the preference in Delaware to permit amendments in order to decide matters on the merits; (ii) The Court denied a motion for default judgment under Rule 55(b). Apparently the motion was based on no reply being filed to the motion to amend complaint by a deadline set by the Court, and no briefing schedule on the motion having been stipulated to by the defendants. Ample citations to authority were cited by the court for its decision on this point. (iii) Although the basis for the request was not clear, the plaintiff also requested sanctions, in addition to a default judgment, as some type of penalty for the defendants not replying promptly to the motion to amend. The Court made quick work of this request and expressed its displeasure that sanctions were even sought under the circumstances, when there was no legal support for imposing them under the facts of this case.
In a concluding admonition to the parties, the Court referred to the Principles of Professionalism for Delaware Lawyers, particularly Principle A.4, entitled: Civility, which includes the provision that the lack of civility "may be detrimental to a client’s interests and contrary to the administration of justice."