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Hawkes v. Christiana Health System, Inc.
Superior Court of Delaware
May 31, 2017
CHARMAINE HAWKES, Plaintiff,
CHRISTIANA HEALTH SYSTEM, INC. Defendant.
Submitted: February 27, 2017
Calvin L. Scott, Jr.
Defendant Christiana Care Heath Services, Inc.'s
31st day of May, 2017, upon consideration of Christiana Care
Health Services, Inc.'s ("Defendant") Motion
for Summary Judgment, and Charmaine Hawkes'
("Plaintiff") Response, it appears to the Court
1. On August 10, 2013 Plaintiff was a visitor at Christiana
Hospital located on Ogletown Stanton Road, Newark, Delaware.
2. While walking towards the elevators, Plaintiff alleges she
slipped and fell on ice cream and sustained injuries.
3. At the time of the incident, a yellow cone was erected
around the ice cream spill in question. Plaintiff contends
that she slipped on the ice cream because the ice cream
seeped out from the yellow warning cone.
4. Plaintiff's filed a Complaint on June 11, 2014,
alleging that the slip and fall on the ice cream was caused
by Defendant's negligence and/or Defendant's agents
5. On June 15, 2016, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment. Defendant argues that summary judgment is
appropriate because Plaintiff failed to establish a prima
facie case of negligence against Defendant, and
Plaintiff was comparatively negligent which bars recovery as
a matter of law.
6. "Owners and occupiers of commercial property have a
duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe
condition for their customers, who qualify as business
invitees under Delaware's premises liability common
law." Along the same lines, "patrons must
also exercise reasonable care: they have an affirmative
obligation to 'exercise the sense of sight in a careful
and intelligent manner to observe what a reasonable person
7. In this action, the "plaintiff-customer bears the
burden of proving that: (i) there was an unsafe condition on
the defendant's premises; (ii) the unsafe condition
caused the plaintiff's injuries; and (iii) the defendant
had notice of the unsafe condition or should have discovered
it by a reasonable inspection."
8. Granting summary judgment is "rare in a negligence
action because the moving party must demonstrate not only
that there are no conflicts in the factual contentions of the
parties but that, also, the only reasonable inferences to be
drawn from the uncontested facts are adverse to the
9. Defendant's argument is twofold. First, Defendant
contends that they warned patrons of the ice cream hazard
because there was a yellow warning cone, which was open and
obvious to Plaintiff. Second, Defendant argues that Plaintiff
has not met her burden in a prima facie negligence case.
10.The Court is persuaded that genuine issues of material
fact exist and summary judgment is inappropriate. It seems
undisputed that there was a yellow warning cone somewhere in
the vicinity of the ice cream spill. The exact ...
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