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Noel v. Rodriguez

Superior Court of Delaware

November 26, 2013

GUSTAMAR NOEL, Plaintiffs,
v.
SEGUNDA RODRIGUEZ, and JORGE A. DE LA CRUZ, Defendants.

Submitted: August 26, 2013

Upon Consideration of Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Prejudgment Interest Against Defendant Rodriguez Granted

Upon Consideration of Plaintiff's

Motion for Cost Against Defendant Rodriguez Granted in part and denied in part

Upon Consideration of Defendant Rodriguez's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law Denied

Upon Consideration of Defendant Rodriguez's Motion for a New Trial on Liability Only Denied

E. Martin Knepper, Esq., Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Plaintiff.

Arthur D. Kuhl, Esq., Reger, Rizzo & Darnall, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Defendant Rodriguez.

Shae Chasanov, Esq., and Nicole E. Skiles, Esq., Swartz Campbell, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for De La Cruz.

OPINION

James T. Vaughn, Jr., President Judge

Plaintiff Gustamar Noel filed this lawsuit against the defendants, Segunda Rodriguez ("the defendant") and Jorge De La Cruz, seeking damages for personal injuries suffered in an auto accident.[1] From July 22, 2013 through July 24, 2013, the case was tried before a jury. The jury found that the defendant was negligent and De La Cruz was not negligent. It awarded damages to the plaintiff against the defendant in the amount of $90, 000.

Now before the Court are the following post-trial motions: Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Pre-Judgment Interest; Plaintiff's Motion for Costs Against the Defendant; Defendant's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law; and Defendant's Motion for a New Trial on Liability.

FACTS

On June 22, 2011, the defendant was driving the plaintiff and De La Cruz, home from work. While enroute, the defendant reached into her pocket to retrieve a Bluetooth headset. As the defendant reached into her pocket, she took her eyes off the road and the vehicle's tire drove over the right shoulder of the road and onto the grass. The defendant then accelerated in an attempt to get the vehicle back onto the road, which caused the vehicle to "zigzag" across both lanes of traffic several times. When the defendant was headed towards a tree, De La Cruz, who was seated in the front passenger seat, grabbed the steering wheel to turn the vehicle right in an attempt to avoid hitting the tree. De La Cruz was unsuccessful and the vehicle subsequently hit the tree thereby injuring the plaintiff.

PARTIES' MOTIONS

Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Pre-Judgment Interest

Applicable Law

6 Del. C. § 2301(d) provides a plaintiff with the opportunity to receive pre-judgment interest. 6 Del. C. § 2301(d) states in pertinent part:

[I[n any tort action for compensatory damages in the Superior Court or the Court of Common Pleas seeking monetary relief for bodily injuries, death or property damages, interest shall be added to any final judgment entered for damages awarded, calculated at the rate established in subsection (a) of this section, commencing from the date of injury, provided that prior to trial the plaintiff had extended to defendant a written settlement demand ...

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