Judge dismisses Irish Hill Road accident lawsuit

DOVER — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging a stretch of road lacked necessary safety features before a collision near a produce stand.

Husband and wife Gary K. and Kathryn Hildebrand filed suit after their motorcycle struck a truck backing out of a driveway on Irish Hill Road following a vegetable stand purchase.

Mr. Hildebrand was injured in the collision and claimed that the vegetable stand owner should have marked or blocked the driveway due to its location as a turnaround area.

According to Kent County Superior Court Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr., however, the driveway was located 400 to 500 feet from the produce stand and thus not part of business operations.

“The Plaintiffs needed to show that [the defendants] knew or should have known that the use of the driveway constituted an unreasonably dangerous condition,” Judge Witham determined in a seven-page order.

“Here, the Plaintiffs have not demonstrated or even alleged any problem with the driveway or its location that might render it a foreseeably dangerous condition to passers-by. There was no evidence of an issue with visibility along the straight road or of visual obstacles like overgrown bushes.

“It follows that no reasonable jury could find evidence of duty and breach on the record presented. The [Defendants] are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”

The judge noted that before it was struck by the motorcycle operated by Mr. Hildebrand on Irish Hill Road, the truck pulled away safely from a parking spot on the road’s shoulder before turning around in the driveway.

“He was thus no longer a participant in any activity carried on by the [Defendants],” Judge Witham found. “He entered and exited their driveway as either a licensee or a trespasser.”

The vegetable stand operators and man in the truck were defendants in the lawsuit. They filed a motion to dismiss on Oct. 18.

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