Lawsuit to continue in alleged fall at Dover gas station


DOVER — A lawsuit involving a customer’s slippery fall at a gas station in early 2014 will continue as both sides further research weather conditions that day, according to an order issued Thursday.

Kent County Superior Court Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. denied Speedway LLC’s request to dismiss the case, maintaining that several weeks of discovery remain, allowing time to gather more information about conditions at the time of the fall.

Plaintiff Michael Laine contends that conditions at the former Hess gas station on North DuPont Highway on Jan. 10, 2014 caused him to slip on ice and hit his head and upper body while exiting a shuttle bus at approximately 7:15 a.m., causing injury.

Defendant Speedway believes that an ongoing snow and ice storm reasonably delayed any clearing work until the weather event ended.

“Given the Court’s strong preference for determinations on the merits, it seems appropriate to give the parties additional time to discover evidence relating to the weather at the time of the incident,” Judge Witham ruled.

Mr. Laine argues that the Modern Maturity Center and Capital School District were open at the time, indicating that the storm was too minor to consider. He presented weather records and testimony showing that rain, mist, drizzle, and occasional fog were present throughout the day.

According to facts of the case cited in the order, the Dover Air Force Base Weather Station recorded a trace amount of “unknown precipitation” at 6:07 a.m. and trace amount of light rain beginning at 6:43 a.m.

Five minutes before Mr. Laine arrived, according to the order, a Hess employee reported slippery conditions outside to her supervisor.

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