Submitted: October 17, 2013
Roger D. Landon, Esquire, Murphy & Landon, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Plaintiff.
William Cattie, III, Esquire, Rawle & Henderson, LLP, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Defendant Burnbrae Maintenance Association.
Natalie M. Ippolito, Esquire, Wetzel & Associates, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Defendant Brenda H. Korban.
Eric M. Davis Judge, Superior Court
This is a negligence action brought by Plaintiff Darnell Hynson. Mr. Hynson alleges that Defendants Brenda H. Korban and Burnbrae Maintenance Association ("BMA") are liable to Mr. Hynson for injuries he sustained when he was shot in the parking lot of the Burnbrae Condominium Complex (the "Complex"). Both Ms. Korban and BMA have moved for summary judgment, arguing that they were under no duty to protect Mr. Hynson from third party criminal activity. For the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' motions for summary Judgment are GRANTED.
Factual and Procedural Background
On November 15, 2011, Mr. Hynson filed suit against Ms. Korban as well as BMA, alleging that they negligently failed to provide adequate security so as to prevent criminal activity on the premises. Ms. Korban answered Mr. Hynson's complaint. Ms. Korban also filed a cross-claim against BMA on February 2, 2012. On April 4, 2012, BMA answered Mr. Hynson's complaint and Ms. Korban's cross-claim. Both Ms. Korban and BMA deny they are liable for the injuries caused to Mr. Hynson on March 15, 2011. Ms. Korban thereafter amended her cross-claim and BMA filed an amended answer to that cross-claim on May 29, 2013.
On or about March 19, 2013, BMA moved for summary judgment on the grounds that no duty existed to provide security to protect Mr. Hynson as a guest without payment. Subsequently Defendant Brenda Korban joined BMA in its motion for summary judgment. On July 3, 2013, Mr. Hynson responded to the motions for summary judgment of Ms. Korban and BMA.
This Court held a hearing on the motions for summary judgment on September 13, 2013. On October 4, 2013, after the hearing, the Court requested additional briefing on the issue of control of the common area where the March 15, 2011 incident took place. The parties filed their supplemental briefing on or about October 17, 2013. The Court then took the matter under advisement.
This case arises out of a shooting that occurred in the parking lot of the Complex. Although there is disagreement as to the duties owed and the applicable legal standard that should be applied, Mr. Hynson, Ms. Korban and BMA – for the most part – rely on the same facts in support of their respective positions.
The Complex is a series of condominiums. BMA is the maintenance association for the Complex. Other than leasing of units by condominium owners, there is no commercial activity at the Complex – i.e., no units are used as commercial businesses or offices.
BMA is the holder of, and in complete control of the common areas at the Complex. The condominium unit owners collectively delegate the operation, care, upkeep and maintenance areas to BMA. To facilitate this, the condominium unit owners pay a common expense assessment to BMA. ...