United States District Court, D. Delaware
J. Bellew, COZEN O'CONNOR, Wilmington, DE Michael D.
O'Donnell, COZEN O'CONNOR, Philadelphia, PA Attorneys
M. Ford, MARKS, O'NEILL, O'BRIEN, DOHERTY &
KELLY, P.C., Wilmington, DE Attorney for Defendant.
U.S. District Judge
before the Court is Defendant Tanisha Lambert's
("Defendant" or "Lambert") motion to
dismiss Plaintiff State Farm Fire & Casualty Co.'s
("Plaintiff or "State Farm") complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
("Motion"). (See D.I. 13) For the reasons
set forth below, the Court will grant the Motion.
provided property insurance to Timothy O'Connell
("O'Connell") for his property located at 302
Porter Street, Wilmington, DE ("Property") pursuant
to insurance policy number 98-BT-7407-8. (See D.I. 1
¶¶ 5-6) Defendant leased the Property from March 1,
2007 to March 31, 2008, following which the lease became a
month-to-month tenancy. (See D.I. 15 Ex. A at 1) The
lease agreement ("Lease") was a U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") lease made
through the Wilmington Housing Authority and included a
Housing Assistance Payments Contract. (See Id. at 4)
Lease provided the following tenant's obligations:
The tenant shall keep the dwelling unit in a clean and
sanitary condition and upon termination of this lease
surrender the dwelling unit to the owner in as good condition
as it is on the beginning date of this lease, reasonable wear
and tear and damage by the elements excepted. . . .
The tenant will be responsible for damages to the unit and
premises, other than normal wear and tear, that are caused by
any member of the tenant's family, guests of the tenant,
and persons under the tenant's control. . . .
The repair of tenant-caused damages must be completed by the
owner at the expense of the tenant.
(Id. at 6 ¶ 2)
14, 2014, while Defendant was leasing the Property, Defendant
lit a candle and left it unattended on the Property.
(See D.I. 1 ¶¶ 8-9) "The candle came
into contact with a couch and/or other combustibles in the
living room, " causing a fire on the Property and,
subsequently, substantial damage to the Property. (See
Id. ¶¶ 10-12)
to its insurance policy, Plaintiff paid more than $100, 000
to O'Connell for the damages caused by the fire. (See
Id. ¶ 13) "In accordance with common law
principles of equitable and legal subrogation, and the terms
of the [insurance policy], [Plaintiff] is subrogated to the
rights of the [insurance policy] to the extent of the
payments it made for the aforementioned property damage and
lost rent." (Id. ¶ 14) Thereafter, on July
1, 2016, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant.
(See D.I. 1) Plaintiffs complaint asserts negligence
and breach of contract claims against Defendant for causing
the fire and failing to pay for the subsequent property
damage. (See Id. at ¶¶ 15-29)
April 20, 2017, Defendant filed its motion to dismiss the
entirety of Plaintiff s complaint. (See Til. 13) The
parties completed briefing on May 11, 2017. (See
Til. 16) The Court heard ...