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Helm v. 206 Massachusetts Avenue, LLC

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

December 12, 2013

GAIL HELM and SCOTT HELM, Plaintiffs,
v.
206 MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE, LLC, and GALLO REALTY, INC., Defendants.

Submitted: September 20, 2013

Upon Consideration of Defendant Gallo Realty, Inc. Motion for Summary Judgment GRANTED

Patrick C. Gallagher, Esquire, Dover, Delaware for Plaintiffs.

James D. Griffin, Esquire, Griffin & Hackett, P.A., Georgetown, Delaware for Defendant Gallo Realty, Inc.

Susan L. Hauske, Esquire, Tybout, Redfearn & Pell, Wilmington, Delaware for Defendant 206 Massachusetts Avenue, LLC.

ORDER

ROBERT B. YOUNG J.

SUMMARY

This concerns the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant, Gallo Realty, Inc. ("Gallo") addressed to the Complaint of Plaintiffs Gail Helm and Scott Helm ("Plaintiffs"). Plaintiffs' Complaint asserts a claim of negligence arising out of a fall down stairs at a rental property known as and located at 206 Massachusetts Avenue, Lewes, Delaware (the "property").

Gallo argues that Plaintiffs' claim should be dismissed for a variety of reasons: 1) whether Gallo's being merely an agent for the property owner (206 Massachusetts Avenue, LLC) shields Gallo from liability for any such claims; 2) whether Plaintiffs' signing of a rental agreement ostensibly indemnifying Gallo against claims for personal injuries precludes Plaintiffs' claims against Gallo; and 3) whether Plaintiff Gail Helm assumed the risk of her injury by her own actions thereby foreclosing Plaintiffs' claim.

Because of the presence of a substantial issue of material fact relative to the extent of Gallo's control over the property, Summary Judgment cannot be granted on that assertion of shielding from liability.

As to the claim that Plaintiffs indemnified Gallo from liability for personal injury claims, the record appears to support Gallo's Motion, in that Plaintiffs agreed in the leasing agreement that no claims could be asserted against Gallo. Because Plaintiffs argue that the relevant language may be ambiguous as it applies to a claim by Plaintiffs, and because of the following circumstance, this issue need not be addressed.

Finally, though, because the actions of Plaintiff Gail Helm, she is barred by her own assumption of the risk and/or majority negligence as a matter of law, the Motion of Gallo for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In a motion for summary judgment, the burden is on the moving party to show, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that no genuine issue of material fact exists and judgment as a matter of law is permitted. When considering a motion for summary judgment, the facts must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Further, if the record indicates that a material fact is disputed, or if further inquiry into the facts is necessary, Summary Judgment is not appropriate. When, however, ...


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