SENATE BILL NO. 257
AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1 AND HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. I TO HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1
AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 45, TITLE 7 OF THE DELAWARE CODE TO PROVIDE FOR REIMBURSEMENT TO THE STATE FOR COSTS AND EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONTESTING CLAIMS TO PUBLIC LANDS OF THE STATE.
WHEREAS, the State of Delaware owns numerous parcels of land throughout the State; and
WHEREAS, such public lands are of significant value to the State and its citizens; and
WHEREAS, the State at considerable expense has documented the boundaries of its public lands; and
WHEREAS, a significant financial burden Is Imposed upon the State when it Is necessary to defend the State's Interests In Its public lands against claims; and
WHEREAS, the State, acting In Its sovereign capacity, deems it appropriate that persons asserting claims to public lands who fall to substantiate their claims should reimburse the State for the costs and expenses incurred by the State in defending the State's interests In its lands If such claim does not have substantial merit.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 45, Title 7, Delaware Code by adding a new Section 4520 to
read as follows:
§4520. Liability for Costs and Expenses Incurred by the State in Defeating Claims to Public Lands
(a) Any person who asserts a claim to any Interest In any part of the public lands of the State of Delaware for which a plot or description has been recorded with the Recorder of Deeds In and for the county In which the lands are situate shall, if the State Is successful In defeating such claim or any part thereof through any judicial proceeding, be liable for all costs and expenses of the State Incurred In defeating the claim or any part thereof, Including, without limitation, investigative costs, administrative costs, salaries of State employees, surveying costs, engineering costs, title search fees, attorneys fees of privately retained counsel and attorneys of the Department of Justice, consultant fees and contract costs, provided however, that such cost and expense recovery should not be provided If the claim has substantial merit.
(b) For purposes of this section the term person shall include any individual,
group of individuals, firm, association, partnership, company, corporation,
joint-venture, trust, estate or other legal entity. Any !lability for costs and
expenses Imposed under this section on any corporation shall also be Imposed jointly and
sewerally on the officers and directors of such corporation in their individual
(c) In order to recover costs and expenses under this section, the State shall,
within forty-five days of the entry of the final order or judgment, file a petition with the court which exercised jurisdiction over the matter, which petition shall set forth a statement of the costs and expenses Incurred by the State."
Section 2. This Act shall take effect immediately upon its adoption and shall apply to
all costs and expenses Incurred by the State after the effective date hereof in contesting claims to public lands, regardless of when any judicial proceeding was commenced.
Approved April 25, 1988