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Louis v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

June 30, 2014

Shirler Louis Plaintiff,
v.
Christiana Care Health Services, Inc. Defendant.

Submitted: May 2, 2014

Upon Defendant Christiana Care Health Services, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss:

James R. Leonard, Esquire, Roeberg, Moore & Friedman, P.A., 910 Gilpin Avenue, Wilmington, DE; Attorney for Plaintiff.

Stephen J. Milewski, Esquire, White & Williams, LLP, 824 North Market Street, Suite 902, Wilmington, DE; Attorney for Defendant Christiana Care Health Services, Inc.

OPINION AND ORDER

FERRIS W. WHARTON, JUDGE

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is defendant Christiana Care Health Services, Inc.'s ("CCHS") Motion to Dismiss, filed on March 28, 2014. The Court heard oral argument on the motion on June 24, 2014, after which, for the reasons more fully explained below, the motion was GRANTED.

II. PROCEDURAL CONTEXT

On February 27, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint[1] stemming from injuries allegedly sustained on March 1, 2011, at Wilmington Hospital.[2] Plaintiff alleges he entered one of the elevators on the property and "upon exiting the elevator, on the second floor, the elevator doors suddenly and without warning closed upon [Plaintiff], striking him on the left side of his head and body."[3] On March 28, 2014, Defendant filed its Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Super. Ct. R. Civ. P. 56. On May 2, 2014, Plaintiff filed his response in opposition. Oral argument was held on June 24, 2014.

III. PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

CCHS contends that because Plaintiff has not produced any evidence, either through an expert or a layperson, showing a defect or maintenance problem with the elevator that allegedly caused his injuries, Plaintiff is unable to establish a prima facie claim for negligence.[4] CCHS argues that Plaintiff has failed to make the requisite showing that it had constructive or actual notice of any defect, hazard or problem with the elevator at the time of the event.[5]

Defendant has provided the Court with CCHS's elevator maintenance ledger.[6] On February 25, 2011, approximately one week before the alleged incident, the ledger was documented with "routine maintenance."[7] The ledger is free of any evidence of issues with the elevator within a week of the incident.[8] On March 7, 2011, six days after the alleged incident took place; the ledger identifies an issue with a button on the elevator.[9] The elevator was taken out of service until the issue was resolved.[10] On March 23, 2011, the ledger includes another entry for "routine maintenance."[11]

In his response, Plaintiff does not controvert the evidence produced by CCHS. Instead, he contends that "there is no other known eyewitness to this event, but there is no evidence that Plaintiff was injured by some instrumentality other than the closing door, which could strike him only if he was in the plane of its movement."[12] Plaintiff argues ...


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