Gregg v. Elliott, C. A. CPU6-18-001910

CourtCourt of Common Pleas of Delaware
Writing for the CourtHonorable Rae M. Mims, Judge
PartiesESTATE OF EVELYN R. GREGG Connie Lynn Ponce, Administrator Plaintiff below, Appellant. v. REESE B. ELLIOTT, III and STEPHANIE ELLIOTT, Defendants below/Appellees.
Decision Date23 May 2022
Docket NumberC. A. CPU6-18-001910

ESTATE OF EVELYN R. GREGG Connie Lynn Ponce, Administrator Plaintiff below, Appellant.
v.
REESE B. ELLIOTT, III and STEPHANIE ELLIOTT, Defendants below/Appellees.

C. A. No. CPU6-18-001910

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware

May 23, 2022


Submitted March 23, 2022

Paul G. Enterline, Esq. Attorney for Appellant

Reese B. Elliott Stephanie Elliott Pro Se, Appellees

DECISION ON APPEAL

Honorable Rae M. Mims, Judge

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FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This case is before the Court on appeal from a decision of the Justice of the Peace pursuant to 10 Del. C. § 9571.

On December 11, 2018, the Justice of the Peace entered a judgment on behalf of Defendants below/Appellees citing insufficient proof the Defendants ever promised to repay these "loans."[1] On December 18, 2018, Plaintiff below/Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal with this Court. A pre-trial conference was scheduled with this Court on March 21, 2019. The conference was continued at the request of Appellant's attorney. The Court held another pre-trial conference on June 13, 2019. Appellant's attorney filed a pre-trial worksheet on June 5, 2019, and Appellees filed a pre-trial worksheet on June 12, 2019. This Court held a trial de novo on March 23, 2022. This Court heard testimony from four witnesses and documentary evidence was submitted by the Appellant.[2] At the conclusion of the trial, the Court reserved decision. This is the Court's final decision after trial.

The Court heard testimony from two witnesses for Appellant: Rebecca Wright, who testified first, and Connie L. Ponce, who was the predominate fact witness. Appellees testified in their own defense. Connie L. Ponce ("Appellant") testified she and her sister Julie McCabe serve as co-administrators for their mother's estate, Evelyn Gregg ("Decedent"). They bring this action against their nephew, Reese Elliott ("Appellee No.l) and his wife, Stephanie Elliott ("Appellee No. 2) to recoup $16, 630.00 owed to Decedent prior to her death. The amount includes $13, 990.00 for a 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer and post-judgment interest and costs.

Decedent co-signed an automobile loan to finance a 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer with the Delaware State Police Federal Credit Union on March 16, 2005 with Appellee No. 1 and his mother

2

as owners. Decedent made payments on the automobile and the loan was paid in full on June 30, 2010. Appellee No. 1 took out a title loan on August 3, 2010 and defaulted on that loan requiring Decedent to pay off that debt. Decedent held physical control of the title to the automobile.

Decedent maintained a series of small, leather-bound notebooks with handwritten numerical notations appearing to be monies paid out and monies received with a "+" or "-" attached to each numerical notation. Most fail to detail the purpose of the monies paid out and received. Decedent noted Appellee No. l's name "Reese B Elliott - Truck $13, 990" on one of the entries. Appellant asserts these are her mother's notebooks, and this is her mother's handwriting - which is not in dispute. The single page (the only one found from this particular notebook, which could not be recovered) details other entries under "RB" that illustrate monies received and given. The book shows at least five subtractions of $50 on this page as well as other additions and subtractions. The notebook entries illustrate Appellee No. 1 received money from his grandmother, Decedent -which is not in dispute.

On February 1, 2015, Appellant sent an email to her sister, Appellee No. l's mother, with a draft promissory note enclosed for Appellees to sign. The note states Appellants have borrowed money from Decedent over the past several years to cover the Chevrolet Trailblazer and personal/household bills. In addition, the note states the balance is $15, 000 and Appellees agree to pay $50 to $100 per week until the balance reaches zero and Appellees understand if their grandmother passes away before the loan is paid in full all monies will be made payable to her Estate. There are no signatures from Appellees on this Promissory Note or on a second copy of the Promissory note. Appellant drafted a letter on behalf of Decedent dated May 30, 2015 to Appellees stating they were behind on their loan and were behind in their $50 per week payments. The letter stated the loan balance was now $14, 828.00 and requested they contact Decedent by June 19, 2015.

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Appellant states she sent the letter certified-mail and it was returned as "unaccepted." On December 9, 2015, Appellant No. 1 signed over a check he received from Roy Pratt for work on plumbing repair to Decedent that came back as insufficient funds. On March 20, 2017, Appellant's sister and Appellee No. 1 's mother responded to interrogatories in another legal action brought by Appellant against Handy, Appellee No.1 and his brother in the Chancery Court of Delaware.[3]Handy responded "false" to the following statement "Since just before Decedent's death, Handy, Reese and Travis have taken and maintained the position that the Reese loan and the Travis loan were actually gifts.

Appellee No. 1 testified Decedent provided financial assistance when his family was in need. He states his grandmother died in 2016 and she primarily raised him. Decedent provided what she wanted to provide monetarily to him. He stated he received his inheritance from his grandmother's estate and his aunts are only going after the truck because it is the most expensive item. Appellee No. 1 testified he paid here and there when he could pay Decedent. Appellee No. 2 testified she took care of Decedent for quite a long time. Decedent helped a lot of people in the family and assisted their family in getting in the right direction.

PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

Appellant seeks review of the December 11, 2018 decision of the Justice of the Peace Court's judgment in favor of Appellees due to insufficient proof the Appellees ever promised to replay these loans. Appellant asserts it was Decedent's intent to be repaid for monies provided to Appellees for the automobile and her handwritten notations...

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