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Zebroski v. Progressive Direct Insurance Co.

Court of Chancery of Delaware

April 30, 2014

ERIC ZEBROSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
PROGRESSIVE DIRECT INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

Date Submitted: January 9, 2014

Frederick S. Freibott, Esq., Steven F. Mones, Esq., THE FREIBOTT LAW FIRM, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware; Attorneys for Plaintiff.

Donald M. Ransom, Esq., Lauren M. McCrery, Esq., CASARINO CHRISTMAN SHALK RANSOM & DOSS, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware; Attorneys for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

PARSONS, Vice Chancellor.

In this action, an insured individual seeks to have the Court rescind an agreement that he executed with his insurance company releasing, in exchange for a nominal amount of money, all of his claims, including those for personal injury, arising out of an automobile accident with another, unidentified motorist. The insured claims that, at the time he executed the agreement, he believed, based on representations made to him by the defendant insurer's representatives, that he was releasing claims for damages to his vehicle only. The text of the release indicates, however, that he released all claims.

Since executing the agreement, the plaintiff has continued to experience pain and has been diagnosed as having a more serious injury than he originally understood. The plaintiff now seeks to avoid the agreement so he may pursue claims for personal injury. Specifically, the plaintiff claims that the release is invalid on two grounds: first, at the time he executed the agreement, both he and the defendant were mistaken as to the extent of his injuries, and, second, notwithstanding the parties' mutual mistake, the defendant misrepresented the scope of the release for the purpose of inducing the plaintiff to sign it.

The defendant has moved to dismiss the complaint in its entirety on the grounds that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiff's claims and that, in any event, the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Having considered the parties' briefs and having heard argument on the motion, I conclude that this action should be dismissed, subject to the plaintiffs ability to transfer his case to a court of law.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

A. The Parties

Plaintiff, Eric Zebroski, is a citizen of Delaware. At all relevant times, Zebroski has been an insured of Defendant, Progressive Direct Insurance Co. ("Progressive"), under an automobile insurance policy (the "Policy"), which provides Zebroski personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage ("UM").

Progressive is an insurance company incorporated outside Delaware that engages in the insurance business in Delaware.

B. Facts

On January 22, 2013, Zebroski was driving northbound on Route 13 when another driver, proceeding eastbound on Old State Road, drove into the intersection where the two roads meet at the same time as Zebroski. To avoid colliding with the other vehicle, Zebroski swerved to his right, causing his vehicle to crash into a ditch (the "Accident"). The other driver fled the scene and has not been identified.

After the Accident, Sharon Portier, or another Progressive representative, contacted Zebroski about the possibility of terminating, for $750, any UM claims that he might assert. Thereafter, on February 4, 2013, Zebroski executed the "Release and Trust Agreement" (the "Release Agreement"), through which he agreed to the following:

Received from [Progressive], [] the sum of seven hundred fifty Dollars ($750) in full settlement and final discharge of all claims, including claims under the above-numbered policy, for bodily injuries to Eric Zebroski arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a [sic] uninsured automobile by an ...

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