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Wallace v. Optek Technology, Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

December 30, 2013

ROGER DANIELS and TAMMY LYNN WALLACE, Plaintiffs,
v.
OPTEK TECHNOLOGY, INC., JOHN DOE I, JOHN DOE II, JOHN DOE III, XYZ CORPORATION I, XYZ CORPORATION II, and XYZ CORPORATION III, Defendants.

Date Submitted: September 13, 2013

Upon Consideration of Plaintiffs' Motion For Leave to File Amended Complaint, GRANTED.

Ian C. Bifferato, Esquire, Richard S. Gebelein, Esquire, David W. deBruin, Esquire, and J. Zachary Haupt, Esquire, Bifferato, LLC, Steven J. Phillips, Esquire, (argued) pro hac vice and Nancy A. Perry, Esquire, pro hac vice, Levy, Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

R. Stokes Nolte, Esquire, Reilly, Janiczek & McDevitt, P.C., Attorney for Defendant Optek Technology, Inc.

OPINION

Vivian L. Rapposelli Judge

INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint ("Plaintiffs' Motion"). Defendant Optek Technologies, Inc. ("Optek") opposes Plaintiffs' Motion on grounds that (1) it falls outside the governing standard of permitted amendments set out in Rule 15 of the Rules of Civil Procedure for the Superior Court of the State of Delaware ("Rule 15"), and (2) the disputed amendments are precluded by the doctrine of judicial estoppel. For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds that Plaintiffs' Motion is permissible under Rule 15 and not precluded by the doctrine of judicial estoppel. Therefore, Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Roger Daniels ("Daniels") is the son of Plaintiff Tammy Lynn Wallace ("Wallace"). Wallace began her employment at Optek in March of 1983, gave birth to Daniels on December 31, 1985, and ended her employment with Optek in June of 1986. Daniels suffers from a variety of birth defects which Plaintiffs allege were caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals during Wallace's employment at Optek.

Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Optek on October 1, 2010 ("Original Complaint"). The Original Complaint (¶30) asserts a derivative theory of liability as to Daniels as follows:

Tammy Wallace sustained an insult to her reproductive system as a result of her employment at Optek that caused injuries to Plaintiff Roger Daniels.

The Original Complaint also states that Daniels was harmed in utero during the exposure period (¶1) and alleges Optek is directly liable to Daniels (¶18):

At all relevant times, Defendants failed to . . . comply with reasonable standards and regulations to protect and promote the health and safety . . . [of] those using or who would foreseeably use or be harmed . . . including Tammy Lynn Wallace and her offspring.

On June 21, 2013, pursuant to Superior Court Rule 15, Plaintiffs filed this Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), which alleges Daniels' direct (not derivative) exposure as the basis of Plaintiffs' claims. On July 1, 2013, Defendant filed an Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend Complaint. After additional filings were ...


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