Progressive Direct Ins. Co. v. Landrum, Case No. CPU4-20-000069

CourtCourt of Common Pleas of Delaware
Writing for the CourtSMALLS, C.J.
PartiesProgressive Direct Insurance Company Plaintiff, v. Na'Sha Montoya Clarice Landrum & Richard L. Hall, Defendants.
Decision Date05 January 2021
Docket NumberCase No. CPU4-20-000069

Progressive Direct Insurance Company Plaintiff,
v.
Na'Sha Montoya Clarice Landrum & Richard L. Hall, Defendants.

Case No. CPU4-20-000069

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

Submitted: December 7, 2020
January 5, 2021


Geoffrey S. Lockyer, Esq.
2 Penns Plaza Suite 300
New Castle, DE 19720
Attorney for Plaintiff

Na'Sha Landrum
1414 Francis Lane
Plainfield, NJ 07062
Defendant Pro Se

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING DEFENDANTS MOTION TO DISMISS

SMALLS, C.J.

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FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This case is before the Court on Na'Sha Landrum's ("Defendant Landrum") motion to dismiss. On January 7, 2020, Progressive Direct Insurance Company, ("Plaintiff"), filed a Complaint against Na'sha Landrum and Richard Hall, ("Defendants"), alleging Defendant Landrum negligently caused a collision while operating Defendant Hall's vehicle.

Following the filing of the Complaint, service was attempted numerous times on Defendant Hall. On January 24, 2020, Defendant Hall refused service from the sheriff and stated that prior to the accident that is the subject of this litigation, he sold the vehicle with the tags intact and the new owners are the responsible parties.

During this time, service was attempted on Defendant Landrum several times at Carrick Court in Middletown, Delaware, but was unsuccessful. Following this attempt, service was attempted again on Defendant Landrum at an address in Newark, Delaware on March 11, 2020 and March 13, 2020. These attempts were also unsuccessful and an occupant of the address stated that Defendant Landrum no longer lived there.

On May 21, 2020, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Enlargement of Time.1 In the motion, Plaintiff stated it made good faith efforts to effect service on Defendant

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Landrum. Further, Plaintiff stated they retained a private investigator to located Defendant Landrum and was informed that Defendant Landrum did in fact reside at the Newark, Delaware location. On May 22, 2020, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion.

On June 24, 2020, service was attempted again on Defendant Landrum at the Newark, Delaware address. While attempting service, the deputy sheriff contacted the landlord of the property who advised him that Defendant Landrum did in fact reside at the location. The Summons and Complaint was left in the mailbox.

On September 10, 2020, default judgment was entered against Defendant Landrum in the amount of $13,847.76 for failure to appear. However, on September 30, 2020, Defendant Landrum filed a Motion to Vacate. The Motion stated Defendant did not receive service and did not learn of the lawsuit until September 14, 2020. On October 5, 2020 the Court granted Defendant Landrum's Motion to Vacate.

On November 9, 2020, Defendant Landrum filed an Answer denying the allegations of the complaint and put forth affirmative defenses. Additionally, Defendant Landrum filed a Motion to Dismiss, alleging failure to serve, insufficiency of process, failure to join a party, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and failure to state a claim.

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On December 7, 2020, a hearing was held on the motion. The Court reserved decision on the issue of failure to comply with Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 4(j), but denied all other arguments raised by Defendant Landrum.

PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

Defendant Landrum avers that she has still not been properly served and seeks dismissal pursuant to rule 4(j). She argues that Plaintiff did not act diligently in prosecuting it's case and lacked a sense of urgency in effecting service as evidence by the lapse in the 120-day time required for service on May 7, 2020.

Plaintiff responds that because the Court granted its Motion for Enlargement of Time to Perfect Service on May 21, 2020, albeit after the original expiration of the time limit for...

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