THOMAS J. VERBITSKI and MAUREEN T. VERBITSKI, his wife, Plaintiffs,
DIAMOND STATE PORT CORPORATION, Defendant/ Third-Party Plaintiff,
PACIFIC TRELLIS FRUIT, INC., Third-Party Defendant.
Submitted: February 11, 2019
Third-Party Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
J. Rhoades, Esquire, Rhoades & Morrow, Attorneys at Law,
Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Plaintiffs.
Primack, Esquire, McElroy Deutsch Mulvaney & Carpenter
LLP, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Defendant.
Sposato, Esquire, Marks, O'Neill, O'Brien, Doherty
& Kelly, P.C., Wilmington, Delaware, Attorneys for
HONORABLE ANDREA L. ROCANELLI, JUDGE
case involves an employee's claims of personal injury
arising out of a workplace accident which require the Court
to address whether an employer can be required to indemnify
the employer's landlord for the landlord's own
negligence. The employer has filed a motion to dismiss the
third-party complaint brought by the employer's landlord,
asserting that the action is precluded by the workers'
compensation exclusivity doctrine. This is the Court's
decision on the employer's motion to dismiss the
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Verbitski ("Employee") was injured at work and
received workers' compensation benefits from his employer
Pacific Trellis Fruit, Inc. ("Employer").
Employee's workplace injury took place in the parking lot
at the property leased by Employer. Employee and his spouse
filed a lawsuit against the owner of the property, Diamond
State Port Corporation ("Landlord"), alleging that
Employee's injury was the result of negligence by
Landlord because Employee fell when his foot caught on an
uncovered open pipe in the parking lot.
filed a third-party complaint for indemnity against Employer
as tenant on the grounds that Employer's lease
("Lease") requires Employer to indemnify and defend
Landlord. Employer requests dismissal of the third-party
claim by Landlord on the grounds that workers'
compensation benefits were provided to Employee and therefore
any claims against Employer are barred by the exclusivity
doctrine ("Workers' Compensation Exclusivity
Doctrine"). Landlord responds that its claims are not
barred because the Lease provides an express provision for
indemnity and the Lease imposes on Employer, not Landlord, an
obligation to maintain the parking lot. According to
Landlord, Employer's contractual agreement to indemnify
is an exception to the Workers' Compensation Exclusivity
deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted under Superior Court Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court shall accept all
well-pleaded allegations as true and make all reasonable
inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Factual
allegations, even if vague, are well pleaded if they provide
notice of the claim to the other party. The Court should
deny the motion if the claimant "may recover under any
reasonably conceivable set of circumstances susceptible of
well established that an employer who provides worker's
compensation to its employees cannot be sued for
negligence. The Workers' Compensation Exclusivity
Doctrine provides that workers' compensation constitutes
the sole remedy for personal ...