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Martin v. Sposato Landscape Co., Inc.
Superior Court of Delaware
February 22, 2018
REGINALD MARTIN, Plaintiff,
SPOSATO LANDSCAPE COMPANY, INC., SPOSATO INVESTMENT LLC, JEREMY A. BAKER, and SAMUEL F. TULL, Defendants. CAPITOL CLEANERS & LAUNDERERS, INC., and PENINSULA INDEMNITY COMPANY, a/s/o/ REGINALD MARTIN, Plaintiffs,
SAMUEL F. TULL, STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, JEREMY A. BAKER, SPOSATO LANDSCAPE COMPANY, INC., SPOSATO INVESTMENT LLC, and THE CINCINNATI INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.
Submitted: November 15, 2017
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
L. Scott, Judge
Defendants Jeremy A. Baker, Sposato Landscape Company, Inc.,
and Cincinnati Insurance Company ("Defendants")
moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Superior Court
Civil Rule 12(b)(6). Defendants State Farm and Samuel F. Tull
joined the Motion. For the following reasons, Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.
September 10, 2013, Plaintiff Reginald Martin
("Plaintiff Martin") was a passenger in a vehicle
while in the course and scope of his employment with
Plaintiff Capitol Cleaners & Launderers, Inc.
("Plaintiff Capitol"). Plaintiff Peninsula
Indemnity Company ("Plaintiff Peninsula") is the
workman's compensation insurance for Plaintiff Capitol.
Plaintiff Martin's vehicle was struck by both Defendant
Jeremy A. Baker ("Defendant Baker"), who was
operating a vehicle while in the course and scope of
employment with Defendant Sposato Landscape Company, Inc.
("Defendant Sposato"), and a vehicle owned by
Defendant Samuel F. Tull ("Defendant Tull").
Defendant Cincinnati Insurance Company ("Defendant
Cincinnati") is the liability carrier for Defendant
Baker's vehicle, and Defendant State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company ("Defendant State
Farm") is the liability insurance company for the
vehicle driven by Defendant Tull. Plaintiff Reginald Martin
filed a third party liability personal injury suit against
Defendants Baker, Tull, and Sposato. That case was
subsequently consolidated with this case initiated by
Plaintiffs Capitol and Peninsula.
filed a Motion to Dismiss on the basis that 10 Del.
C. § 2363(a) does not permit an action by both the
individual, here Plaintiff Reginald Martin, and the employer
and compensation carrier. Plaintiffs Capitol and Peninsula
filed a Response. In their Response Plaintiffs argue that
Defendants' argument lacks support from both the plain
reading of the statute and Delaware case law. Additionally,
Plaintiffs Capitol and Peninsula agree that Plaintiffs'
remedies are specifically limited to 10 Del. C.
§ 2363(e) and the Plaintiffs' subrogated rights of
recovery are limited to the third-party liability insurers,
but Plaintiffs disagree with Defendants' contention that
the employer and insurance carrier are inappropriate parties
to the action. Plaintiff Reginald Martin did not participate
to this action, 19 Del. C. § 2363(a) states:
Where the injury for which compensation is payable under this
chapter was caused under circumstances creating a legal
liability in some person other than a natural person in the
same employ or the employer to pay damages in respect
thereof, the acceptance of compensation benefits or the
taking of proceedings to enforce compensation payments shall
not act as an election of remedies, but such injured employee
or the employee's dependents or their personal
representative may also proceed to enforce the liability
of such third party for damages in accordance with this
section. If the injured employee or the employee's
dependents or personal representative does not commence such
action within 260 days after the occurrence of the personal
injury, then the employer or its compensation insurance
carrier may, within the period of time for the commencement
of actions prescribed by statute, enforce the liability of
such other person in the name of that person . . . Any party
in interest shall have a right to join in said
argument is that this section of the statute prohibits the
employer, insurance carrier, and the employee who
were injured from suing the third party. However, 10 Del.
C. §§ 2363(b) and (c) states:
(b) Prior to the entry of judgment, either the employer or
the employer's insurance carrier or the employee or the
employee's personal representative may settle their
claims as their interest shall appear and may execute
(c) Such settlement and release by the employee shall not be
a bar to action by the employer or its compensation insurance
carrier to proceed against said third party for any interest
or claim it might have, and such settlement and release by
the employer or its compensation insurance carrier shall not
be a bar to action by the employee ...