Submitted: February 26, 2018
Kenneth Simpler Ms. Crystal Rodriguez Mr. Angel Rodriguez
DECISION AFTER TRIAL
CHARLES W. WELCH JUDGE
plaintiff-below, appellant, Kenneth Simpler
("Simpler"), has filed this civil appeal for a
trial de novo with this Court of a final decision of
the Justice of the Peace Court pursuant to 10 Del.
C. § 9571 and Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule
72.3. Simpler is seeking recovery on a debt he alleges is
owed to him by the defendants-below, appellees, Crystal
Rodriguez ("Crystal") and Angel Rodriguez
("Angel") for the storage of personal property.
Simpler is seeking the sum of $1, 100.00, plus interest and
court costs. Crystal and Angel contend that they do not owe
anything to Simpler for the storage of their property.
the trial for this matter, and after careful consideration by
the Court of all the evidence introduced at trial and the
parties' arguments, the Court enters judgment for the
defendants-below, appellees, Crystal and Angel.
owns a farm in Maryland. Angel and Crystal are husband and
wife. They are related to Simpler. Crystal is Simpler's
niece, as her father is Simpler's brother.
and Angel lived in the vicinity of Simpler, in Maryland. They
decided to sell their home in Maryland and move to a new
residence in Delaware.
father approached Simpler and asked whether Crystal and Angel
could store some personal items on his farm while they were
moving. Simpler gave Crystal's father permission to store
Crystal and Angel's items in one of the sheds on his
farm. Crystal and Angel brought the items to the shed which
included, but were not limited to, lawn tractors, hand tools,
lawn ornaments, Christmas decorations and shelving. In total,
Crystal and Angel used about 500 square feet of the shed to
store their items. There was no agreement about whether any
payment for the storage of the items was expected at the
time. Crystal and Angel believed that Simpler was permitting
them to store the items in the shed as a favor. They had
inquired from Simpler how much he wanted to charge them for
storing their items. Simpler just responded "don't
worry about it."
and Angel's items were stored in the shed for about six
months, from April 2015 until October 2015. During that
period, Simpler contacted some local storage companies and
determined that a storage cost of $4.97 a day would be
reasonable. He hand-delivered a bill to Crystal and Angel in
the amount of $905.00 based on the calculation of $5.00 per
day for 181 days. Crystal and Angel have refused to pay the
bill that was delivered to them by Simpler.
order for Simpler to recover the debt he alleges is due to
him from Crystal and Angel for the storage of their personal
property, he must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence,
(1) that Crystal and Angel were legally obligated to pay him
a debt, (2) that Crystal and Angel have failed to pay the
debt and (3) the amount due. See 26 C.J.S. Debt,
Action o/§ 14 (2002). Simpler has not met his
burden of proof.
Court finds that there was no agreement in place between
Simpler and Crystal and/or Angel for the payment of storage
costs when Simpler agreed to permit them to store items in a
shed on his farm. There is no evidence that at any time
before the items were stored or the items were moved that
there was a discussion of payment between them. Simpler is
Crystal's uncle. When she asked him what he would charge
them for storing their items, Simpler responded
"don't worry about it." Given their
relationship and this response, Crystal and Angel had a
reasonable belief that Simpler was doing them a favor by