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Parham v. Todaro

Superior Court of Delaware

March 23, 2017

MAURICE G. PARHAM and ZACHARY BRADY, Plaintiffs,
v.
ZACHARY JOHN TODARO, SUSAN A. TODARO, ANTHONY MICHAEL JANNUZZIO, and UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., Defendants.

          Submitted: January 20, 2017

         Upon Defendants Anthony Michael Jannuzzio and United Parcel Service, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment DENIED

          ORDER

          Andrea L. Rocanelli, Judge

         This is a personal injury case arising out of a motor vehicle accident. Upon consideration of the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Anthony Jannuzzio and United Parcel Service, Inc. ("UPS"); the opposition thereto filed by Defendants Zachary Todaro and Susan Todaro; the opposition thereto filed by Plaintiffs Maurice Parham and Zachary Brady (collectively "Plaintiffs"); the facts, arguments and authorities set forth by the parties; the Superior Court Civil Rules; statutory and decisional law; and the entire record in this case, the Court hereby finds as follows:

          1. On June 18, 2013, Plaintiffs were passengers in a vehicle driven by Zachary Todaro. Zachary's mother Susan Todaro is the owner of the vehicle.[1]

         2. On the day of the accident, Zachary attempted to enter a Sunoco gas station on Elkton Road in Newark, Delaware. Zachary turned from Newark's S. Main Street onto Murray Road, a street that does not provide access to the Sunoco gas station. Upon realizing his error, Zachary executed a U-turn on Murray Road. As Zachary re-entered S. Main Street from Murray Road, his vehicle collided with a UPS delivery truck operated by Anthony Jannuzzio.[2]

         3. On May 19, 2015, Plaintiffs commenced this negligence action. Plaintiffs allege that both Zachary Todaro and Jannuzzio caused the accident by negligently operating their respective vehicles. Plaintiffs allege that Zachary and Jannuzzio's negligence proximately caused Plaintiffs to suffer physical and emotional injury.

         4. On December 22, 2016, Jannuzzio and UPS filed the motion for summary judgment that is currently before the Court, asserting that there is insufficient evidence to establish that Jannuzzio was negligent or that Jannuzzio's negligence proximately caused the accident. Accordingly, Jannuzzio and UPS assert that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that judgment as a matter of law is appropriate.

         5. On January 18, 2017, Zachary and Susan Todaro filed a response in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. The Todaros assert that, viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving parties, a reasonable jury could find that Jannuzzio negligently operated the delivery truck and proximately caused the accident. Accordingly, the Todaros contend that there are genuine issues of material fact and that judgment as a matter of law as to Jannuzzio and UPS is inappropriate.

         6. On January 19, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a response to the motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs agree with the Todaros that there are genuine issues of material fact regarding the party responsible for the accident. Plaintiffs assert that a reasonable jury could find that either or both sets of Defendants are liable for Plaintiffs' injuries and, therefore, judgment as a matter of law as to Jannuzzio and UPS is inappropriate.

         7. The Court may grant summary judgment only where the moving party shows that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.[3] The moving party bears the initial burden of proof and, once that is met, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to show that material issues of fact exist.[4] At the summary judgment phase, the Court must view the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party.[5]

         8. "In order to prevail in a negligence action, a plaintiff must show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a defendant's negligent act or omission breached a duty of care owed to plaintiff in a way that proximately caused the plaintiff injury."[6] The driver of a motor vehicle owes a duty of care to his passengers under Delaware law.[7] Moreover, Delaware drivers are required by statute to operate their vehicles with due care and at a controlled speed in order to avoid colliding with a person, vehicle, or conveyance on the highway.[8]

         9. For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds genuine issues of material fact regarding the cause of the collision and the parties' respective duties of care. Accordingly, summary judgment is inappropriate.

         10. The record contains conflicting evidence regarding whether Zachary Todaro brought his vehicle to a complete stop before re-entering S. Main Street after executing the U-turn on Murray Road. Specifically, Zachary testified that he stopped his vehicle on Murray Road for one to two seconds after making the U- turn.[9] Zachary testified that his vehicle remained stopped at the intersection of S. Main Street and Murray Road when the collision occurred.[10] Conversely, Plaintiff Maurice Parham testified that Zachary failed to stop after executing the U-turn on Murray Road and before ...


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