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Dippold Marble & Granite, Inc. v. Harleysville Mutual Insurance Co.

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

July 21, 2014

DIPPOLD MARBLE & GRANITE, INC., a Delaware Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
HARLEYSVILLE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, a corporation, Defendant.

Submitted: May 2, 2014.

Upon Consideration of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

Jayce R. Lesniewski, Esquire, A Delaware Lawyer, Inc., Dover, Delaware for Plaintiff.

Shae L. Chasanov, Esquire, Swartz Campbell, LLC, Wilmington, Delaware for Defendant.

ORDER

ROBERT B. YOUNG, J.

SUMMARY

Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company ("Defendant") moves to dismiss Dippold Marble & Granite, Inc.'s ("Plaintiff") claim to recover for property losses on the basis of Plaintiff's failure to produce an expert opinion on the value of damages. In the alternative, Defendant moves in limine to reduce the amount of Plaintiff's alleged damages, because Plaintiff is not entitled to the full replacement value of her property.

Because the owner of personalty may testify as to its value, Plaintiff's failure to name an outside expert is not fatal. Accordingly, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED. Because Plaintiff's insurance contract provides for reimbursement at replacement value, rather than actual cash value, Defendant's Motion in Limine is DENIED.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE

On September 14, 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking $90, 995.92 for damage to personal property stored in a rental unit located at 314 Bay West Boulevard in New Castle, Delaware. Plaintiff claimed that the wall of an adjoining building had collapsed, causing damage to Plaintiff's contents in her rental unit. Plaintiff used the rental unit primarily as a storage facility. To support the value of Plaintiff's damages, Plaintiff produced a seven-page spreadsheet identifying the personal property allegedly damaged, along with the replacement cost for each item.[1]The listed personalty includes household and office items, as well as other chattels. In deposition, Plaintiff, through Megan Dippold, testified that any receipts from the initial purchase of these items were damaged or otherwise unavailable. Plaintiff did not retain any outside expert to assist in the calculation of Plaintiff's damages.

Plaintiff's insurance contract[2] provides for optional coverage by which Plaintiff's covered property losses will be insured at replacement cost rather than at actual cash value, by virtue of the Replacement Cost Option in Exhibit B of Plaint iff's Response.

The deadline for Plaintiff to identify any expert passed on December 6, 2013. A deposition of Plaintiff was taken on February 17, 2014.[3] Exhibit C of Plaintiff's Response is an excerpt of Plaintiff's insurance contract with Defendant. Exhibit D of Plaintiff's Response contains Defendant's Answers to Interrogatories. Exhibit E of Plaintiff's Response contains Defendant's Responses to Plaintiff's Request for Production of Documents. Exhibit H of Plaintiff's Response is a letter, written by Defendant to Plaintiff, discussing portions of a report by the adjuster, Tower Services ("the Tower Services Report").

Defendant filed the instant Motions on April 2, 2014. Plaintiff filed a Response to Defendant's ...


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