Curto v. Dixon, Case No. CPU4-19-001955

CourtCourt of Common Pleas of Delaware
Writing for the CourtSMALLS, C.J.
PartiesDawn Curto, Plaintiff, v. Joy Dixon, Defendant.
Docket NumberCase No. CPU4-19-001955
Decision Date17 September 2020

Dawn Curto, Plaintiff,
v.
Joy Dixon, Defendant.

Case No. CPU4-19-001955

COURT OF COMMON PLEAS FOR THE STATE OF DELAWARE IN AND FOR NEW CASTLE COUNTY

Submitted: July 23, 2020
September 17, 2020


Daniel C. Herr, Esq.
Law Office of Daniel C. Herr
1225 N. King Street, Suite 1000
Wilmington, DE 19801
Attorney for Curto/Plaintiff

John R. Weaver Jr., Esq.
John R. Weaver., P.A.
831 N. Tatnall Street, Suite 200
Wilmington, DE 19801
Attorney for Dixon/Defendant

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

SMALLS, C.J.

Page 2

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Joy Dixon's (hereinafter "Dixon") Motion for Summary Judgment and/or to Dismiss.1 Plaintiff Dawn Curto (hereinafter "Curto") brought this conversion action against Dixon to recover $30,000 Dixon allegedly wrongfully withdrew from a joint bank account held in the names of both parties. Dixon argues, inter alia, that Curto's complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim because Delaware does not recognize a cause of action for conversion of money where Curto is not able to establish the money taken out of the account belonged to her. Additionally, she alleges the Statute of Frauds bars Plaintiff from enforcing the alleged agreement. At the close of the hearing, the Court reserved decision.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In September of 2017, Curto and Dixon opened a joint bank account at Wilmington Savings Fund Society (hereinafter "joint account"). According to Curto, although the joint account was in both parties' names, the parties understood and agreed that all funds therein belonged to Curto, Dixon was included as a signatory on the joint account purely for convenience purposes, and any withdrawal of funds required express authorization from Curto.2

Page 3

Soon after opening the account, Evan C. Postle, Curto's son and Dixon's grandson, asked Dixon to deposit his Social Security Disability proceeds, totaling $30,062 into her bank account. Dixon deposited the funds into the joint account she shared with Curto. Postle subsequently requested the return of his funds, and on April 27, 2018, Dixon electronically transferred $30,000 from the joint account to Postle.

This action commenced on May 14, 2019. Curto filed this conversion action against Dixon seeking the return of the $30,000. Curto alleges Dixon converted $30,000 from Curto by withdrawing the money from the joint account without prior authorization and refusing to return such. Dixon filed an answer denying there was an understanding that Curto owned all the funds in the joint account and denying that she was required to seek authorization before making a withdrawal. After the close of discovery, Dixon filed the instant motion.

On July 20, 2020, the Court held oral argument on the motion and took the matter under advisement. Both parties were afforded the opportunity to submit supplemental briefing regarding their respective positions. Although supplemental briefing was submitted, no new arguments were raised in the parties' respective briefs.

Page 4

PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

Dixon argues that Curto's claim must be dismissed because Delaware law bars a conversion action for money and there are no exceptions to this rule. Alternatively, Dixon argues Curto cannot establish she is the owner of the funds withdrawn from the account and that the Statue of Frauds bars Curto from enforcing the alleged agreement regarding control and withdrawal authorization of the joint account entitling Dixon to summary judgment.

Curto responds that her conversion claim falls within a narrow exception to the rule prohibiting conversion actions for money because she seeks return of "identical money" taken by Dixon. Further, Curto admits there is no formal contract and that the agreements and understanding she allege in her pleadings simply relate to an understanding as...

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