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Vohrer v. Kinnikin

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

February 26, 2014

LISA VOHRER and LOUIS VOHRER, Plaintiffs,
v.
GARY KINNIKIN and DELAWARE STATE HOUSING AUTHORITY, Defendants.

Submitted: December 10, 2013

Upon Defendant Delaware State Housing Authority's Motion for Summary Judgment.

Granted in part; Denied in part. Upon Defendant Delaware State Housing Authority's Motion in Limine to Exclude Testimony of Dr. Babigumira.

Dismissed as Moot. Upon Defendant Delaware State Housing Authority's Motion in Limine to Exclude Expert Testimony of Carl White. Granted.

Edward C. Gill, Esquire of Law Office of Edward C. Gill & Associates, Georgetown, Delaware; attorney for Plaintiffs.

Jeffrey A. Young, Esquire of Young & McNelis, Dover, Delaware; attorney for Defendant Gary Kinnikin.

Jennifer D. Smith, Esquire of Tybout Redfearn & Pell, Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for Defendant Delaware State Housing Authority.

ORDER

WITHAM, R.J.

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, as well as two motions in limine filed by Defendants. After carefully considering the record, case law and the filings of the parties, the Court has set forth its ruling on the motions below.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

At all times relevant to this case, Plaintiffs Lisa and Louis Vohrer (individually "Lisa" and "Louis, " collectively "Plaintiffs") resided in a rental unit in Milford owned and operated by Defendant Delaware State Housing Authority (hereinafter "DSHA"). Defendant Gary Kinnikin (hereinafter "Kinnikin") was employed by DSHA as a maintenance worker. Plaintiffs moved into the rental unit on November 29, 2010; the unit contained an electric stove. The stove had a three-pronged plug that was manipulated into a four-pronged electrical outlet. Plaintiffs claim this was done by improperly jury-rigging the three-pronged plug into the four-pronged outlet.

Lisa allegedly received an electric shock while attempting to use the stove on December 8, 2010. Plaintiffs claim that DSHA and Kinnikin (collectively "Defendants") assured Plaintiffs that the stove "was in good working order and that they could continue to use the stove." Based on these assurances, Lisa continued to use the stove. Lisa was allegedly shocked on multiple different occasions as she continued to use the stove, and was ultimately shocked a total of eight times, including the first shock on December 8. Plaintiff claims she was diagnosed with Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (hereinafter "CRPS") as a result of the shocks.

Lisa alleges that each time she complained to DSHA about the stove, Kinnikin would come to Plaintiffs' apartment to examine the stove, but Kinnikin failed to resolve the issue. Kinnikin replaced the stove's burners and otherwise attempted to recreate the circumstances under which Lisa was shocked, but Kinnikin was ultimately unsuccessful in determining the cause of the shocks.

Plaintiffs also claim that Kinnikin engaged in a pattern of persistent sexual harassment against Lisa. Plaintiffs allege that Kinnikin sent Lisa lewd and vulgar images and text messages via phone, made inappropriate sexual comments to Lisa, and went through Lisa's undergarments on at least one occasion. DSHA ultimately terminated Kinnikin's employment in October of 2011; Kinnikin denies these allegations.

On July 5, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against DSHA and Kinnikin alleging causes of action for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and a loss of consortium claim on behalf of Louis. Plaintiffs also seek punitive damages. It is unclear from the face of the complaint which claims are based on the electric shocks Lisa allegedly received and which are based on Kinnikin's alleged sexual harassment. The parties' briefings appear to ...


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