THERESA M. CODY, Plaintiff,
DAVID N. HARDY, IAN SIMPKINS, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, ANTHONY J.M. MITCHELL, JR., and TRAVELERS CASUALTY INSURANCE CO. OF AMERICA, Defendants.
Submitted: July 20, 2017
Consideration of Defendant Miami-Dade County's Motion for
Summary Judgment. DENIED.
Heather A. Long, Esquire, KIMMEL, CARTER, ROMAN, PELTZ &
O'NEILL, Christiana, Delaware. Attorney for Plaintiff.
Michael Busenkell, Esquire, GELLERT SCALI BUSENKELL &
BROWN, LLC, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Defendant
M. Ransom, Esquire and Michael J. Hendee, Esquire, CASARINO
CHRISTMAN SHALK RANSOM & DOSS, P.A, Wilmington, Delaware.
Attorneys for Defendants David N. Hardy and Ian Simpkins.
Charles E. Butler Judge.
a personal injury action arising from two separate motor
vehicle accidents, only one of which is at issue here.
Plaintiff Theresa Cody ("Plaintiff) alleges that she
sustained personal injuries after her vehicle collided with a
vehicle operated by Defendant David N. Hardy
("Hardy") and rented by Defendant Ian Simpkins
("Simpkins"). Plaintiff also named Hardy and
Simpkins' employer, Miami-Dade County ("Miami-Dade
County" or "the County"), as an additional
defendant under the theory of respondeat
County filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that
Hardy was not acting within the course and scope of his
employment when the accident occurred and therefore, the
County could not be held liable for any alleged negligence.
the Court finds that a genuine issue of material fact exists
as to whether Hardy was acting within the course and scope of
his employment with Miami-Dade County at the time of the
accident, Miami-Dade County's Motion for Summary Judgment
October 14, 2014, Plaintiff and Defendant Hardy were involved
in a car accident on Center Meeting Road in New Castle
County, Delaware. According to Plaintiff, the collision
occurred due to Defendant Hardy's negligence when he
turned left into the lane Plaintiff was driving
Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the accident, she has
sustained serious injuries and damages for which she seeks
Hardy is employed by Miami-Dade County as a Historic
Landscapes Specialist at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in
Florida. At the time of the accident, Hardy was in Delaware
to attend the American Public Gardens Association Historic
Landscapes Symposium. Hardy's supervisor, Defendant
Simpkins, was also in Delaware to attend the Symposium.
Attendance at the Symposium was the sole purpose of Hardy and
Simpkins' visit to Delaware.
and Simpkins' employment with the County involves
traveling to and participating in relevant symposia like the
one in question. In fact, attendance at such symposia is a
recognized basis upon which Hardy and Simpkins are evaluated
as a part of their employment with the County.
their attendance at this particular Symposium, Miami-Dade
County paid both Hardy and Simpkins "educational
leave." According to the County's own leave manual,
"[e]ducational leave may be approved for an employee to
attend training and educational courses, conferences, and
seminars, where such attendance is expected to benefit
the County. Educational leave is considered as time
Symposium was held at the Winterthur Museum, Garden and
Library in New Castle County, Delaware. The County reimbursed
Hardy and Simpkins for their travel expenses, including
airfare, the rental vehicle involved in the accident at
issue, fuel, and per diem for food and lodging. Both Hardy
and Simpkins stayed in housing on the Winterthur property.
Because of their attendance at the Symposium, Hardy and
Simpkins (and ultimately, the County) received a reduced
food was not available on-site for all meals, Hardy and
Simpkins contend that buying groceries was necessary during
their stay. The accident at issue occurred as Hardy was
returning to the Winterthur property after picking up some
groceries at a nearby grocery store.
Miami-Dade County filed the instant Motion for Summary
Judgment, arguing that as a matter of law, Hardy was not
acting within the scope of his employment when the accident
occurred and therefore, Miami-Dade County is not liable for
any alleged negligence. In support of its position, the
County points to the "undisputed" fact that at the
time of the accident, Hardy "was on his way to buy
groceries." According to the County, "[i]t is
also undisputed that buying groceries is not the kind of work
that Hardy is employed by the County to
perform."Furthermore, the County contends that
while it does encourage its employees to take such
educational trips, the trip to this particular Symposium was
not specifically required by the County as a part of Hardy or
Simpkins' employment, but was instead a "voluntary
trip to further professional development."
Hardy and Simpkins oppose the County's Motion for Summary
Judgment for two reasons. First, Hardy and Simpkins argue
that the County's motion is premature because the
relevant parties-including Hardy, Simpkins, and the County
pursuant to a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition-have not yet been
deposed on these matters. Second, they contend that a
reasonable juror could find that ...