CHAPTER 159

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 267

AS AMENDED BY

SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 10 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CIVIL ACTIONS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE :

Section 1. Amend Title 10 of the Delaware Code by adding a new § 8142 to read as follows:

"§ 8142. Limitations on Civil Actions for Recovery for Shoplifting.

(a) (1) Before a civil action may be commenced, the merchants may send a notice to the defendant's last known address requesting that the defendant or the parent/guardian of a minor if the defendant is a minor make payment of the sums listed in subsection (2) below within twenty (20) days of the date of the letter. It is not a condition precedent to maintaining an action under this Act that the defendant has been convicted of shoplifting or theft or that a police report has been filed.

(2) No civil action under this Act may be maintained if the defendant has paid the merchant a penalty equal to the retail value of the merchandise where the merchandise was not recovered in its original condition, plus a penalty in the amount of the retail value of the merchandise or $150.00, whichever is greater, within twenty (20) days of the date of the initial demand letter. If the merchandise is recovered in merchantable condition, no civil action under this Act may be maintained if the defendant has paid the merchant a penalty equal to the retail value of the merchandise attempted to be taken or $150.00, whichever is greater, within twenty (20) days of the date of the initial demand letter. Should the defendant fail to respond in a timely manner as descried above, the merchant may request reasonable attorney's fees in addition to the amounts described above and shall be entitled to recover costs of suit and reasonable attorney's fees upon filing of an action.

(b) If the person to whom a written demand is made complies with such demand within twenty (20) days of the date of the demand, that person shall be given a written release from further civil liability with respect to the specific act of shoplifting or theft.

(c) Parents or legal guardians of an unemancipated minor who triggers the liability portion of this Section shall be jointly and severally liable civilly to the merchant. For purposes of this subsection, liability shall not be imposed upon any governmental entity or foster parents assigned responsibility for the minor child pursuant to a court order or action of any governmental agency.".

Approved July 12, 2005