Geoffrey S. Lockyer, Esquire Weber Gallagher LLP Attorney for
L. Rivera Pro se Litigant
K. WELCH, JUDGE.
Mr. Lockyer & Ms. Rivera:
case concerns a subrogation action stemming from a motor
vehicle accident.On June 17, 2016, Plaintiff Progressive
Direct Insurance Company ("Progressive") a/s/o
Berenice Bernabe Deloya ("Ms. Deloya") filed a
Complaint against Defendant Erica L. Rivera ("Ms.
Rivera"). Progressive alleges that on May 05, 2015, Ms.
Rivera's negligently driving caused her vehicle to
rear-ended Ms. Deloya's 2010 Nissan vehicle ("Nissan
vehicle"), resulting in damage to the Nissan vehicle and
bodily injury to Ms. Deloya. Progressive insured the Nissan
vehicle. Progressive's Complaint seeks $3, 454.14 in
damages, plus post-judgment interest and costs.
July 20, 2016, Defendant filed an Answer. She admitted that
she "tapped" the bumper of the Nissan vehicle, but
denied damaging the vehicle.
October 17, 2017, trial was rescheduled in lieu of settlement
discussions. On December 18, 2017, trial was convened in this
matter. Trial lasted approximately twenty (20) minutes. The
Court heard testimony from Ms. Deloya and Ms. Rivera.
Progressive submitted three exhibits into evidence without
objection. Ms. Rivera submitted three exhibits into
evidence without objection. The Court reserved its decision.
trial, Ms. Deloya testified that on May 5, 2015 she was a
passenger in her Nissan vehicle. The driver of the Nissan
vehicle slowed for traffic ahead and became stationed behind
a school bus at an intersection on Union Street in
Wilmington, Delaware. While waiting behind the school bus,
the Nissan vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Ms.
Rivera.The front bumper of Ms. Rivera's
vehicle came in contact with the Nissan vehicle's rear
After the accident, the State of Delaware Police and an
ambulance arrived at the scene. Ms. Deloya testified that
because she was pregnant at this time, the collision produced
contractions. She was therefore transported to St. Francis
Hospital for treatment. Progressive appears to have been billed
$4, 195.00 for this treatment, paying only $2, 792.14 as of
June 27, 2015. Ms. Deloya testified that the Nissan
vehicle required repairs to its rear bumper after the
collision. Progressive appears to have paid $583.60 in repair
costs for the Nissan vehicle.
trial, Ms. Rivera agreed with Ms. Deloya's recitation of
the vehicles' positions prior to the collision and that
her vehicle rear-ended Ms. Deloya's Nissan vehicle.
However, Ms. Rivera testified that the contact was only a
mere "tap." Ms. Rivera submitted pictures that she
took of the Nissan vehicle on the date of the collision into
evidence. The pictures do not evidence rear-end
damage to the Nissan vehicle.
civil claims, the plaintiff bears the burden to prove each
and every element of his or her claims by a preponderance of
the evidence. The side which establishes the greater
weight of evidence in its favor has met the preponderance
trier of fact, the Court is the sole judge of the credibility
of each fact witness and any other information provided. If
the Court finds the evidence presented at trial conflicts, it
is the Court's duty to reconcile these conflicts-if
reasonably possible-in order to find congruity. If the Court
is unable to harmonize the conflicting testimony, then the
Court must determine which portions of the testimony deserve
more weight in its final judgment. The Court must disregard
any portion of the testimony which the Court finds unsuitable
for consideration. In ruling, the Court can consider the
witnesses' demeanor, the fairness and descriptiveness of
their testimony, their ability to personally witness or know
the facts about which they testify, and any biases or
interests they may have concerning the nature of the case.
"In order to prevail on a claim for negligence, a
plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence,
that: (1) the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care;
(2) the defendant breached that duty of care; (3) the
defendant's breach proximately caused the plaintiffs
harm, and; (4) the plaintiff suffered
damages." Notably, "the violation of a
Delaware statute enacted for the safety of others is evidence
of negligence per se[;] [h]owever, there must be a causal
connection between such a statutory violation and the injury
alleged."Further, even if negligence per se is
established, an action for damages requires proof that
defendant's actions were a proximate cause. "In
Delaware, proximate cause is one 'which in natural and
continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening
cause, produces the injury and without which the result would
not have occurred.' "
Progressive's requested damage award of $3, 454.14
appears to be calculated based on: $583.60 in vehicle repair,
$78.40 in lost wages, and $2, 792.14 in medical
costs. Based on the testimonial and documentary
evidence, the Court finds that Progressive has established
that Ms. Rivera breached her common law and statutory duty of
care. Likewise, Progressive has proven that
Ms. Rivera's vehicle's rear-end collision with the
Nissan vehicle proximately caused Ms. Deloya to be
transported to St. Francis Hospital. However, under a common
law analysis, Progressive has failed to prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that Ms. Rivera's actions
were a proximate cause of harm to Ms. Deloya's vehicle,
as property damage was not proven by a preponderance of
evidence. Further, Progressive failed to prove the
appropriate bodily injury and property damages by a
preponderance of the ...