This is a decision after remand from the Delaware Supreme Court in which Delaware’s High Court ordered the trial court to reopen the case and to allow “supplemental evidence” to be introduced into the record and thereafter to consider whether the trial court still would have granted summary judgment after considering that additional evidence. On remand, the trial court also suggested that instead of an appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court that a preferred procedure would have been to file a motion under Court of Chancery Rule 60(b) to obtain relief from a final judgment. The trial court in this opinion on the first page of its decision disclosed that: “To be candid, the Supreme Court’s Order is unclear to me.” (See link to Supreme Court decision above.) Nonetheless, the trial court complied with the order of the Supreme Court to consider supplemental evidence.
Summary of Court’s Conclusion upon Remand
The trial court explained that after conducting an analysis of the supplemental evidence, it did decide the case differently and determined for the reasons explained in the 26-page decision that “the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment should be denied on the basis of genuine issues of material fact that emerge because of the addition to the record of the Supplemental Evidence.”
Nonetheless, the trial court explained its concern for the unhappy incentives that this decision may give future litigants who receive an adverse result and fail to make a timely Rule 59 or Rule 60 motion and are permitted to reopen a judgment by submitting to an appellate court evidence “from its [the losing party’s] own files that it chose not to present to the trial court [.In this manner], the fairness, reliability and efficiency of our litigation process will be undermined, as every losing party can think of different ways in which it could have argued or presented its case to the trial court.”
The Final Word
The trial court nonetheless applied a final stinging penalty as the cost of compliance with the remand ordered by the Supreme Court, via the following closing sentence of its opinion on remand: “. . . any alteration of the final judgment dated June 16, 2010 should be conditioned on Wimbledon paying all fees and costs incurred by SV Fund and prosecuting this action after January 11, 2010, plus an appropriate award of interest.” It’s not clear whether the amount of those fees may reduce the victory in the Supreme Court to a Pyrrhic one.
Supplement: The Delaware Supreme Court by Order dated August 23, 2011, available here, acknowledged that the issue of fees awarded was not yet ripe, but agreed with the decision of the trial court after remand to deny the motions for summary judgment, and then formally reversed the prior judgment granting the motions–and then again remanding this matter for “further proceedings consistent with this Order.”