Vice Chancellor Fully Adopts Factual And Legal Conclusions Reached By Master In Deciding Which State’s Law Applies To Insurance Policies

Delaware Fiduciary Litigation Blog

Posted September 20, 2021

IMO The Estate of Meredith L. Sullivan, CA No. 2018-0741-PWG (September 16, 2021)

          We initially blogged about this case at, shortly after the Master made her recommendations in this matter.

           After the Master issued her recommendations, both sides also filed exceptions. Vice Chancellor Glasscock then reviewed, de novo, both the Master’s factual and legal findings as he was required to do by Delaware law whenever exceptions are taken.  After doing a de novo analysis, the Vice Chancellor rejected the exceptions and fully adopted the Master’s conclusions of fact and law.

           The most interesting part of this decision is perhaps the Vice Chancellor’s general comments on the de novo review required whenever exceptions are taken. He wrote,

De novo review of Masters’ decisions creates unnecessary uncertainty, delay, and expense for litigants. It encourages long-shot appeals, because the losing party is able to proceed with a clean slate. It delays justice in the case being reviewed, and the other cases pending in the Court which are behind it in the judge’s queue. The work the Masters do adds much efficiency and value to the Court; given the current caseload, they are indispensable. But their utility is diminished by the required de novo review.”           

           Perhaps those comments will lead to a sustained effort to revise the rule that requires de novo review in all instances of any findings by Masters in Chancery. We shall see.



William M. Kelleher, Director
Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A.