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Saint-Louis v. Donegal Mutual Insurance Co.

Superior Court of Delaware, Sussex

July 2, 2018

Saint-Louis
v.
Donegal Mutual Insurance Co.,

          Date Submitted: April 5, 2018

         On Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment: DENIED

          Francis J. Jones, Esquire Morris James LLP.

          Brian D. Tome, Esquire Kelly E. Rowe, Esquire Reilly, Janiczek, McDevitt, Henrich & Cholden, P.C. Delle Donne Corporate Center.

         Dear Counsel, This matter is presently before the Court on the motion of the Defendant Donegal Mutual Insurance Company ("Defendant") for summary judgment against the Plaintiffs Wisline Saint-Louis, individually and as Guardian of John Kelly Dieudonne; Saint Armand Corvil, as Guardian of Ritchy Corvil; and Lefils Florestal (collectively, "Plaintiffs"). Plaintiffs oppose the Motion. For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         This claim arises out of an accident that occurred on March 10, 2017, in Sussex County, Delaware. Saint-Louis was driving a vehicle owned by her husband, Florestal when a vehicle operated by Gabriela Reyes struck her. Saint-Louis and her passengers, Dieudonne and Corvil, were injured and incurred medical expenses as a result of the accident. At the time of the collision, Defendant insured Florestal's vehicle under an automobile insurance policy (hereinafter, "Policy"), which included personal injury protection coverage ("PIP"), pursuant to 21 Del. C. § 2118.

         Saint-Louis and Dieudonne signed applications for benefits on March 28, 2017. On her application for benefits ("AFB"), Saint-Louis described her injury as "lower back, right knee and both shoulders."[1] Dieudonne's injury is listed as "lower back, mid back and neck" on his AFB.[2] On April 3, 2017, Corvil signed an AFB. His injury is identified as "lower back."[3]

         While it is not immediately clear from the record when Defendant received the Plaintiffs' AFBs, on May 5, 2017, Defendant sent a letter to Plaintiffs noting that the investigation into the accident was ongoing and a decision regarding the claims would be made at the conclusion of the investigation. Identical letters were sent to Plaintiffs on a regular basis through at least November 1, 2017. The letters do not specify the nature of Defendant's ongoing investigation.

         On August 14, 2017, Plaintiffs initiated this suit against Defendant for failure to pay medical expenses and bad faith in failing to do so. Plaintiffs later amended the complaint to add a claim for damages to Florestal's vehicle. Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, consequential damages, punitive damages, pre-judgment interest, post-judgment interest, attorney's fees, and costs.

         Defendant asserts it is entitled to summary judgment because it has paid medical expenses, save a chiropractor's bill, and there is no evidence its delay in doing so was motivated by bad faith.

         The parties have stipulated to the dismissal with prejudice of the claims against Saint-Louis and Florestal. The claims remain pending as to Dieudonne and Corvil.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This Court will grant summary judgment only when no material issues of fact exist, and the moving party bears the burden of establishing the non-existence of material issues of fact.[4] Once the moving party has met its burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to establish the existence of material issues of fact.[5] Where the moving party produces an affidavit or other evidence sufficient under Superior Court Civil Rule 56 in support of its motion and the burden shifts, the non-moving party may not rest on its own pleadings, but must provide evidence showing a genuine issue of material fact for trial.[6] If, after discovery, the non-moving party cannot make a sufficient showing of the existence of an essential element of his or her case, summary judgment must be ...


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