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Laine v. Speedway, LLC

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

March 21, 2017

MICHAEL LAINE, Plaintiff,
v.
SPEEDWAY, LLC, Defendant.

          Submitted: March 10, 2017

         Upon Defendant's Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment. Granted.

          Nicholas H. Rodriguez, Esquire of Schmittinger and Rodriguez, P.A., Dover, Delaware, attorney for Plaintiff.

          Jessica T. Tyler, Esquire of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for Defendant.

          Eric S. Thompson, Esquire and William A. Crawford, Esquire of Franklin & Prokopik, Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for Intervenor, Cincinnati Insurance Co.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM L. WITHAM. JR. RESIDENT JUDGE

         Upon consideration of Defendant Speedway LLC (" Speedway")'s Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff Michael Laine's Opposition, Intervenor The Cincinnati Insurance Companies ("Cincinnati")'s Opposition, and Speedway's Response, it appears to the Court that:

         1. The facts and evidence remain essentially unchanged from the Court's ruling on Speedway's earlier motion.[1] Mr. Laine slipped and fell on ice on the premises of Speedway's predecessor around 7:15 a.m. on January 10, 2014. The only evidence is that the ice Mr. Laine fell upon was formed during a rain event that began several minutes before 7:00 a.m.

         2. Earlier in this case, Speedway moved for summary judgment based on the application of the continuing storm doctrine. The Court denied that motion with leave to re-file at the close of discovery, allowing the parties additional time to discover evidence relating to whether a storm event was ongoing at the time of Mr. Laine's fall.

         3. Discovery has now closed, and Speedway has filed a renewed motion for summary judgment which is opposed by Plaintiff.

         4. Cincinnati Insurance Company, the personal injury protection carrier that covered the vehicle Mr. Laine was operating before his fall, moved to intervene, which was granted, and Cincinnati filed its opposition to Speedway's motion. Speedway filed a response to that opposition.

         5. Speedway argues that, as a matter of law, it acted reasonably by waiting until the storm ended to clear the accumulated snow and ice. It bases this argument on both the continuing storm doctrine and its contention that "[i]t is undisputed that Plaintiff. . . slipped and fell on ice that accumulated during an ongoing weather event."[2]

         6. Mr. Laine responds that there was no "storm" at the time of his fall because the climatological data shows that precipitation did not start until 6:58 a.m. He urges the Court to depart from earlier continuing storm doctrine cases because in this case Speedway had two employees available to clear any accumulation.

         7. Cincinnati intervenes to provide expert evidence and argue that the continuing storm doctrine was inapplicable here ...


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