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Gibson v. Metropolitan Group Property and Casualty Insurance Co.

Superior Court of Delaware

November 15, 2017

DONNA J. GIBSON, Plaintiff,
v.
METROPOLITAN GROUP PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, GARY HIGGINS and JOHN DOORDAN, Defendants.

          Date Submitted: August 28, 2017

         On Defendant Gary Higgins' Motion for Summary Judgment. GRANTED.

          Joseph J. Rhoades, Esquire, and Stephen T. Morrow, Rhoades & Morrow LLC, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Lisa M. Grubb, Esquire, Law Office of Cynthia G. Beam, Newark, Delaware, Attorney for Defendant, Gary Higgins.

          Tracy A. Burleigh, Esquire, Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Defendant Metropolitan Group Property and Casualty Insurance Company.

          Robert D. Cecil, Jr., Tybout, Redfearn & Pell, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Defendant John Doordan.

          ORDER

          CALVIN L. SCOTT, JR. JUDGE.

         Background and Parties' Contentions

         Defendant, Gary Higgins ("Mr. Higgins"), filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on July 24. 2017.[1] In his motion, Mr. Higgins contends that there is no issue of genuine fact and he is entitled to summary judgment pursuant to Superior Court Civil Rule 56. This action arose from a three-car collision in Newark, Delaware. On September 18, 2015, Plaintiff Donna J. Gibson ("Plaintiff) was driving on Main Street in Newark, Delaware. Mr. Higgins was operating a vehicle directly behind Plaintiff, and Defendant John Doordan ("Mr. Doordan") was operating a vehicle behind Mr. Higgins. At or near the intersection of Pomeroy Drive in Newark, Delaware, Mr. Higgins states that Mr. Doordan struck the rear of his vehicle which caused Mr. Higgins' vehicle to strike the rear of Plaintiff s vehicle. On May 22, 2017, Plaintiff, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Doordan were deposed. Mr. Higgins argues that Plaintiff was unable to state which vehicle stopped directly behind her and "what the driver of the third vehicle was doing at the time of impact because at all times she was looking forward." Mr. Higgins points to his deposition where he testified that he "absolutely" came to a "controlled stop, " and that he was hit from behind and he was pushed into Plaintiffs vehicle. Additionally, Mr. Higgins argues that Mr. Doordan testified that the sun was in his face and he thought that the traffic light turned green so he accelerated which caused him to rear-end Mr. Higgins' vehicle which was at a complete stop. Based on Mr. Higgins' and Mr. Doordan's testimony, Mr. Higgins argues that the record is devoid of any proof that Mr. Higgins was negligent. Mr. Higgins cites to two cases to support his argument. First, Mr. Higgins cites to Reid v. Hindt for the proposition that the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment where the record established that the middle vehicle driver was not negligent.[2] Additionally, Mr. Higgins cites to Smith v. Haldeman arguing that this Court granted summary judgment in favor of a defendant in a factually similar case.[3]

         On the other hand, Plaintiff argues that the evidence is sufficient for a jury to find that Mr. Higgins struck Plaintiffs vehicle first. Plaintiff points to her deposition testimony which states:

Q: And why don't you tell me in your own words how the accident occurred.
A: Ok. We were just riding down Main Street. It was a red light, came to a stop. Then all of a sudden, I felt a bump from behind and then another hit from behind.
Q: So you felt two impacts from ...

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