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Hart v. Parker

Superior Court of Delaware

October 29, 2019

NANCY HART, an individual, and SCOTT HART, her husband, Plaintiffs,
v.
DANIEL PARKER, an individual, THE ESTATE OF DANIEL PARKER deceased, DANIEL PARKER SR., MICHAEL PARKER, LINDA WOTHERS, jointly, severally and/or in the alternative, Defendants.

          Submitted: July 23, 2019

         Upon Defendant The Estate of Daniel Parker's Motion to Dismiss .

          Melissa L. Rhoads, Tighe & Cottrell, PA, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Plaintiffs.

          Scott L. Silar, Esquire, Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Estate of Daniel Parker.

          ORDER

          THE HONORABLE CALVIN L. SCOTT, JR. JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant The Estate of Daniel Parker's ("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

         Background

         Plaintiffs Nancy Hart and Scott Hart ("Plaintiffs") filed a complaint on January 10, 2019 alleging negligence against Daniel Parker and the other defendants. Plaintiffs' claims arise out of a car accident that occurred on January 13, 2017 between Daniel Parker and Nancy Hart. Plaintiffs allege Daniel Parker's actions caused injuries to Plaintiffs.

         Parties' Assertions

         On May 24, 2019, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss. Defendant requests this Court dismiss it from the action because no estate was ever opened for Daniel Parker and thus, Plaintiffs have sued an entity that does not exist. Defendant argues that Plaintiffs cannot sue an entity which does not exist. In the alternative, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs' claims fall outside the time limitation for claims brought against an estate pursuant to 12 Del. C. § 2102. Finally, Defendant argues that even if an estate were to be opened for Daniel Parker now, Plaintiffs claims would be time-barred by 10 Del C. § 8119.

         On June 26, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiffs argue that Defendant's insurance carrier failed to notify Plaintiffs of the applicable statute of limitations, as required by 18 Del C. § 3914. Because the insurance carrier failed to notify Plaintiffs of the applicable statute of limitations, Plaintiffs argue that the Defendant is now estopped from raising the statute of limitations as a defense. Finally, Plaintiffs argue that the actions of Defendant's insurance carrier indicated that Mr. Parker was not deceased and thus, the doctrine of equitable estoppel requires denying Defendant's motion.

         On July 23, 2019, Defendant filed its Reply to Plaintiffs' Response. Defendant argues that 18 Del. C. § 3914 is inapplicable to Plaintiffs claims for two reasons. First, Plaintiffs filed their claim within the two-year statute of limitations. Second, the Defendant's insurance carrier is not a party to Plaintiffs' action. Defendant also argues that equitable estoppel is not proper here because nothing in the record indicates that Defendant's insurance carrier was made aware of Mr. Parker's death.

         Standard of Review

         This Court's standard of review on a motion to dismiss is well-settled. The Court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.[1] The motion will be denied when ...


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