Delaware High Court Upholds Slip-and-Fall Lawsuit Dismissal

January 11, 2018

The Delaware Supreme Court issued an opinion this week upholding the dismissal of a lawsuit filed over a slip-and-fall accident at a gas station during freezing rain four years ago.

On January 10, 2014, Michael Laine, slipped and fell on ice near a gas pump on the premises of a convenience store/gas station operated by Speedway, LLC in Dover. The driver of a Modern Maturity Center shuttle bus, he slipped when he stepped off the shuttle to fill its gas tank. He sustained serious injuries as a result of the fall.

The ice was caused by light, freezing rain which was falling at the time. Laine filed suit against Speedway, alleging that negligence on Speedway’s part was the proximate cause of his injuries.He argued that the business should have inspected and warned customers of the ice, or should not have opened at all.

The two questions on appeal, according to the opinion, are “whether a business owner that remains open during a winter storm should be able to avail itself of the continuing storm doctrine at all, that is; whether we should continue to recognize the doctrine” and “whether the continuing storm doctrine applies to the facts of this case.”

The Delaware State News reports that Justice James T. Vaughn Jr. issued a 15-page opinion on Monday affirming a Superior Court’s finding that Speedway, LLC bore no liability for Laine’s injurious fall. The Supreme Court cited past case law and the state’s continuing storm doctrine, which allows businesses to wait until a storm ends to clear ice and snow.

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