07/02/2010 01:19:00 PM EST
A.W. Fin. Servs., S.A. v. Empire Res., Inc., 981 A.2d 1114 (Del. 2009)
Tracking unclaimed property dormancy periods can present administrative problems for holders. Aside from reporting delinquency hazards that may follow a holder's failure to heed dormancy period limits, liability issues can emerge if the holder prematurely allows property to be escheated. Here, the plaintiff stockholder alleged that the holder defendant turned over the plaintiff's shares of stock before the Delaware dormancy period had elapsed. Factual questions were involved, along with a predecessor in interest, and a request for and issuance of a replacement shares. In addition, there was a question as to whether the state's dormancy period change from five years to three years should apply retroactively. The Supreme Court of Delaware held that the dormancy period change did not apply retroactively; that the Escheat statute did not supersede common law or statutory causes of action; that statutory immunity was limited; and that the defendant holder was bound to plead and prove good faith as an affirmative defense.
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