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Kornegay v. State of Delaware Department of Corrections

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

October 10, 2013

CASSANDRA KORNEGAY, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS and CARL C. DANBERG, COMMISSIONER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS and WENDI LUCAS CAPLE, WARDEN OF BAYLOR WOMEN'S CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, Defendants.

Date Submitted: July 8, 2013.

On Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings/Motion for Summary Judgment.

Gary S. Nitsche, Esq., Weik, Nitsche & Dougherty, Attorney for Plaintiff.

Catherine Damavandi, Esq. and Ryan P. Connell, Esq., State of Delaware Department of Justice, Attorneys for Defendants.

ORDER

Scott, J.

Introduction

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings/Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court has reviewed the pleadings, motion, response, and an affidavit submitted by Defendants. For the following reasons, the Court has evaluated Defendants' motion as a motion for summary judgment and determined that Defendants' motion must be GRANTED.

Background

On or about November 12, 2009, Cassandra Kornegay ("Plaintiff") fell on water at Baylor Women's Correctional Institution ("Baylor") in New Castle, Delaware. Plaintiff suffered personal injuries which lead her to initiate the present suit against the State of Delaware Department of Corrections ("DOC"), Carl C. Danberg ("Defendant Danberg"), Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and Wendi Lucas Caple ("Defendant Caple"), Warden of Baylor (collectively, "Defendants").

Plaintiff filed her Complaint for gross negligence against Defendants on November 11, 2011, alleging that she was a "business invitee on the premises… when suddenly and without warning she was caused to fall on water as a result of the Defendant's intentional, wanton and/or grossly negligent acts of the Defendants in that they knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known of the dangerous condition that existed but failed to take action…"[1] Plaintiff listed six different acts or omissions to support her claim, but did not identify the duties breached by Defendants.[2]

Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings on February 2, 2012, asserting sovereign immunity, qualified immunity under the State Tort Claims Act, 10 Del. C. § 4001, et seq., and Plaintiff's failure to plead her claim of negligence with particularity. Along with their motion, Defendant's included the affidavit of Debra Lawhead, the Insurance Coverage Administrator for the State of Delaware, to demonstrate that the State had not waived its immunity through the purchase of insurance related to the facts of this case. Plaintiff responded by challenging Defendants' qualified immunity and particularity arguments, but did not directly address sovereign immunity.

In a letter dated April 26, 2012, the Court informed the parties that Defendants' motion would be viewed a as a motion for summary judgment due to Defendants' inclusion of Debra Lawhead's affidavit.[3] The Court denied Defendants' motion, but allowed them to renew their motion as a motion for summary judgment. The Court also allowed Plaintiff to amend her complaint so that she could comply with Super. Ct. Civ. Rule 9's requirements for pleading negligence claims.

When Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint, she asserted no more facts than she had asserted in her original Complaint;[4] however, Plaintiff stated that Defendants "failed to discharge their ministerial duties" and listed five more acts and/or omissions by Defendants.[5] Defendants then filed this motion on ...


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