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Sanchez v. Longwood Gardens, Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

July 25, 2013

KELLE D. SANCHEZ and CHRISTOPHER SANCHEZ, her husband, Plaintiffs,
v.
LONGWOOD GARDENS, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff
v.
SODEXHO OPERATIONS, LLC, a Delaware limited liability corporation, and CHRISTIANA CARE HEALTH SYSTEM, INC., a Delaware corporation. Third-Party Defendants.

Submitted: March 13, 2013

Defendant Longwood Gardens, Inc. Motion for Summary Judgment – GRANTED

James P. Hall, Esquire, Phillips Goldman & Spence, P.A., Attorney for Plaintiffs.

David L. Baumberger, Chrissinger & Baumberger, Attorney for Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff Longwood Gardens, Inc.

Stephen J. Milewski, Esquire, White & Williams LLP, Attorney for Third-Party Defendant Christiana Care Health System, Inc.

D. Miika Roggio, Esquire, Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, Attorney for Third-Party Defendant Sodexho Operations, LLC.

Joseph R. Fowler, Esquire, and Francis J. O'Neill, Jr., Esquire, Post & Schell, P.C., Attorneys for Third-Party Defendant Sodexho Operations, LLC.

ORDER

William C. Carpenter, Jr., Judge

Before this Court is Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff Longwood Gardens, Inc.'s ("Longwood") Motion for Summary Judgment. At issue is whether Longwood, as the property owner, owed a continuing duty to inspect the premises during a private function, which was hosted by Christiana Care Health System, Inc. ("Christiana") and catered by Sodexho Operations, LLC ("Sodexho").

The Court finds that, under the circumstances of this case, it does not, and Longwood's Motion for Summary Judgment should be GRANTED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The motion currently before the Court arises from an incident that occurred May 18, 2007 during a charity event at Longwood's premises. Specifically, Christiana rented the premises for the evening and contracted with Sodexho to provide catering and bar service. Although Longwood did not staff the event, Longwood had several employees present during the event: 1) Howard Wood, Longwood's event supervisor; 2) two (2) or three (3) security guards who primarily assisted with traffic and parking; 3) a custodian; and 4) the night gardener. In addition to Sodexho's staff of servers, bartenders, and kitchen workers, Elizabeth Derosier, Sodexho's banquet manager, and her assistant were present during the event.

The Plaintiff, Kelle D. Sanchez ("Sanchez"), injured her arm and shoulder when, after obtaining a drink from the bar in the Music Room around 10:00 p.m., she slipped and fell as she was walking to the restroom. Although neither Sanchez nor an employee of either Longwood or Sodexho saw any spilled liquid or "wetness" on the floor prior to her fall, witnesses indicated that Sanchez's dress was wet and a puddle was present afterwards. However, it is unclear whether the liquid on Sanchez's dress came from a prior spill on the floor or, instead, from her drink that spilled in the course of her fall.

Guests Ashley Gillerlain and Amanda Friz were present when Sanchez fell and attended to her until her husband arrived. Longwood's security guards responded upon hearing that a guest at the event had fallen and created an incident report, noting that ...


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