Delaware Trial Handbook § 10:7. MAILING

There is a rebuttable presumption that mailed matter, correctly addressed, stamped and mailed, was received by the party to whom it was addressed.70 Proof that the mail was returned as undeliverable, however, negates the presumption71 and creates a presumption that the addressee is not in residence at the address.72 In Jackson v. U.I.A.B.,73 the Superior Court recognized that in certain jurisdictions a statement by the addressee that he or she did not receive the mailing is inadequate to rebut the presumption,74 while in other jurisdictions a denial creates an issue of fact for the jury.75 In that case, on appeal from a decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, the court adopted the rule that a mere denial was inadequate to rebut the presumption.76 Under the facts of that case, however, the evidence of mailing was an affidavit under oath, while the denial was merely an unsworn assertion in a brief. The Court ruled that under such circumstances, it would be appropriate to conclude that the unsworn assertion was inadequate to rebut a presumption established by sworn evidence. Beyond this case, however, the better rule is to recognize a denial as being probative evidence on the point and to leave the issue of the weight of the evidence to the trier of fact.77

Even where the mail is delivered there is no presumption as to the date or time of delivery.78

70. Graham v. Commercial Credit Co., 194 A.2d 863, 865 (Del. Ch. 1963), aff’d, 200 A.2d 828  (Del. 1964); State ex rel. Hall v. Camper, 347 A.2d 137, 138 (Del. Super. 1975); Bennett v. Faulkner, C.A. No. 872, slip op. at 5, Hartnett, V.C. (Del. Ch. Apr. 25, 1986); First Federal Sav. & Loan Assn. v. Shipley, CA. No. 83L-MY-7, slip op. at 4, Taylor, J. (Del. Super. Feb. 14, 1992) (ORDER) appeal dismissed mem., 609 A.2d 669 (Del. 1992).

71. Truax v. Strong, C.A. No. 1236, slip op. at 2, Walsh, J. (Del. Super. June 14, 1979).

72. New York Trust Co. v. Riley, 16 A.2d 772, 779 (Del, 1940), aff’d, 315 U.S. 343 (1942), reh’g denied, 315 U.S. 829 (1942).

73. Jackson v U.I.A.B., C.A. No. 85A-NO-9, Bifferato, J. (Del. Super. Sept. 24, 1986).

74. E.g., Meierdierck v. Miller, 147 A.2d 406, 408 (Pa. 1959).

75. E.g., Martin v. Young, 705 S.W.2d 445, 447 (Ark. App. 1986); Liquorama, Inc. v. American Nat. Bank & Trust Co., 408 N.E.2d 373, 375 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 1980); James Talcott, Inc. v. Reynolds, 529 P.2d 352, 355 (Mont. 1974); Manassas Park Development Co. v. Offutt, 124 S.E.2d 29, 31 (Va. 1962).

76. Jackson v U.I.A.B., C.A. No. 85A-NO-9, slip op. at 3-4, Bifferato, J. (Del. Super. Sept. 24, 1986).

77. See 9 Wigmore on Evidence § 2519 (Chadbourne rev. ed. 1981).

78. In re Hilton Hotels Corp., 210 A.2d 185, 187 (Del. Ch. 1965), aff’d, 222 A.2d 789 (Del. 1966); In re Engle v. Magnavox, C.A. No. 4896, slip op. at 5, Hartnett, V.C. (Del. Ch. Apr. 21, 1976).

© 2010  David L. Finger