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The Harford Mutual Insurance Co. v. Weiner

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

July 15, 2014

THE HARFORD MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, A/S/O DANIEL BECKER, Plaintiffs,
v.
JEFFREY M. WEINER, MAX E. WEINER, and DAVE HALL, INC., Defendants.

Submitted: June 26, 2014

Upon Defendants Jeffrey and Max Weiner's Motion for Summary Judgement. Denied.

Upon Defendant Dave Hall, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment. Denied.

Upon Defendants Jeffrey and Max Weiner's Motion to Strike Portions of Plaintiff's Answering Brief. Denied.

Mary E. Sherlock, Esquire of Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires and Newby, LLP, Dover, Delaware; attorney for Plaintiff.

Arthur D. Kuhl, Esquire of Reger Rizzo & Darnall, LLP, Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for Defendants Jeffrey M. Weiner and Max E. Weiner.

Susan List Hauske, Esquire of Tybout Redfearn & Pell, Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for Defendant Dave Hall, Inc.

ORDER

William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This subrogation case involves a slip-and-fall accident suffered by a laborer at a job site. Specifically, the accident allegedly occurred on a snow-covered walkway, the laborer was the employee of a subcontractor, and the job site was a residence undergoing renovations at the behest of the homeowners.

The homeowners, Defendants Jeffrey and Max Weiner (individually "Jeffrey W." and "Max W., " collectively "the Weiners") have filed the instant motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the Weiners had no responsibility for job site safety and were not in control of the premises. Additionally, the Weiners have filed a motion to strike portions of the answering brief filed by the Plaintiff, The Harford Mutual Insurance Company (hereinafter "Plaintiff"), on the grounds that Plaintiff's answering brief references an inadmissible subsequent remedial measure.

The general contractor for the renovation project, Defendant Dave Hall, Inc. (hereinafter "Dave Hall") has also moved for summary judgment, on the basis that, as general contractor for the renovation project, Dave Hall owed no duty to protect the subcontractor's employee. Dave Hall further contends that no recognized exception allowing for general contractor liability applies in this case.

The Court has carefully considered the submissions of the parties, including the deposition transcripts provided by each party. For the reasons set forth below, the Weiners' motion for summary judgment, as well as their motion to strike portions of Plaintiff's answering brief, are DENIED. Dave Hall's motion for summary judgment is also DENIED.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff has filed the instant subrogation action for workers compensation benefits paid by Plaintiff's insured, Robert Mullin HVAC Contractors (hereinafter "Mullin") to a former employee, Daniel Becker (hereinafter "Becker"). Becker received workers compensation for injuries sustained in a slip-and-fall accident that occurred at a Wilmington property owned by the Weiners.

Mullin was hired as a subcontractor by Dave Hall for the Weiners' renovation project. The renovations commenced in the fall of 2010 and lasted until late 2011. While the renovations were ongoing, neither Jeffrey W. nor Max W. resided at the property during the renovation. Max W. lived in Colorado at the time, while Max's father, Jeffrey W., lived at his home elsewhere in Wilmington. The Weiners jointly owned the renovated property, and according to Jeffrey W., the property was purchased for Max W. to ultimately reside in once the renovations were complete. William Michelinie (hereinafter "Michelinie"), Dave Hall's on-site supervisor for the project, and Robert T. Mullin, Jr. (hereinafter "Robert M."), principal of Mullin, considered the house to be vacant. Becker also believed the house to be vacant. The Weiners had no contact with any representative of Mullin, including Robert M. and Becker, at any time during the renovations. Over the course of the renovations, the Weiners would periodically visit the job site. Jeffrey W. ...


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