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Hicks v. Sparks

Supreme Court of Delaware

March 25, 2014

PATRICIA J. HICKS and FRANK L. HICKS, Plaintiffs Below-Appellants,
v.
DEBRA SPARKS, Defendant Below-Appellee

Submitted March 5, 2014

Case Closed April 10, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County. No. N13C-02-131.

Before BERGER, JACOBS, and RIDGELY, Justices.

OPINION

Henry duPont Ridgely, Justice

ORDER

On this 25th day of March 2014, it appears to the Court that:

(1) Plaintiffs-Below/Appellants Patricia J. Hicks and her husband, Frank L. Hicks, appeal from a Superior Court's grant of a Motion for Summary Judgment in favor of Defendant-Below/Appellee Debra Sparks. The Hicks raise one claim on appeal. They contend that the Superior Court erred because there was a mutual mistake of fact between the parties that should have allowed for rescission of an insurance release. We find no error and affirm.

(2) This case arises from a motor vehicle accident that occurred in March 2011. Patricia Hicks was a passenger in a motor vehicle operated by her husband that was rear-ended by Sparks. Hicks, who was seventy-two years old at the time of the accident, went to the Emergency Room and followed up with her family physician a few days later with complaints of neck pain and headaches. She received medical treatment and physical therapy for headaches and neck pain for approximately fifteen visits.

(3) In April 2011, Hicks presented her claim to Progressive Northern Insurance Company, Sparks' liability carrier. The adjuster handling the claim was Sharon O'Connell. Hicks spoke with O'Connell, explaining that she had stopped physical therapy. Hicks also told O'Connell that she was still having some problems but was happy with her progress and ready to negotiate a settlement. O'Connell initially offered Hicks $2,000 for the full and final resolution of the claim. Hicks did not accept.

(4) In May 2011, Hicks spoke with O'Connell a second time and told her that she was still having headaches. Hicks then made a demand of $7,000, indicating that she had spoken to an attorney regarding her injuries and their approximate costs. O'Connell countered with a $2,500 offer as full and final resolution. Hicks stated that she wanted more time to consider the counteroffer.

(5) More than three months after the accident, Hicks contacted O'Connell again. Hicks issued a settlement demand for $5,000, explaining that she had spoken to two attorneys about the case. She further stated that the attorneys advised her to wait at least a year before settling to ensure that her injuries were resolved. O'Connell ...


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