Kent judge: Woman not obligated to pay storage fee to uncle

DOVER — A Maryland man’s bid to receive more than $1,100 from his niece and her husband for providing them storage space during a move three years ago was denied in an April 5 court decision.

Kenneth Simpler, of the 2000 block of Millington Road in Millington, sought money from Crystal and Angel Rodriguez after they left personal items on his farm during a move to Clayton, according to a four-page decision issued in Kent County Court of Common Pleas.

While Mr. Simpler believed he was owed a storage fee plus interest and court costs for roughly six months between April until October 2015, Judge Charles W. Welch found “There was no agreement about whether any payment for the storage of the items was expected at the time.

“Crystal and Angel believed that Simpler was permitting them to store the items in the shed as a favor. They had inquired from Simpler how much he wanted to charge them for storing their items. Simpler just responded ‘don’t worry about it.’ “

Mr. Simpler filed a civil suit after a decision in Justice of the Peace Court and the Court of Common Pleas, according to documents.

Among the items stored in approximately 500 square feet of the shed were lawn tractors, hand tools, lawn ornaments, Christmas decorations, and shelving, the Court noted.

According to the judge, Mr. Simpler “contacted local storage companies and determined that a storage cost of $4.97 a day would be reasonable.

“He hand-delivered a bill to Crystal and Angel in the amount of $905 based on the calculation of $5 per day for 181 days. Crystal and Angel have refused to pay the bill that was delivered to them by Simpler.”

In his discussion, Judge Welch pointed to Mrs. Rodriguez relationship with her uncle the “don’t worry about it” response and surmised “Crystal and Angel had a reasonable belief that Simpler was doing them a favor by permitting them to store items in his shed and that no payment was expected.
“Therefore, Crystal and Angel are not legally obligated to pay any debt to Simpler.”

The Court noted that “There was testimony provided by Simpler that in his discussion with Crystal’s father, Simpler indicated that they could agree on a cost for the storage of the items at a later time, but, that it would be reasonable.

“The Court Notes that no amount was discussed in the alleged conversations and there is no evidence that Crystal or Angel had any knowledge of them.”

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