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Sears, Roebuck and Co. v. Midcap

893 A.2d 542 (2006)

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Sears, Roebuck and Co. v. Midcap

Delaware Supreme Court

893 A.2d 542 (2006)

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Facts

Terry Midcap purchased a gas stove from Sears (defendant). Midcap received his propane gas from Southern States (defendant). There was a leak in the connection of the stove that eventually caused an explosion. The explosion killed Midcap and demolished Midcap’s home. Midcap’s estate, wife, and children (plaintiffs) sued Sears and Southern States for wrongful death. Allstate Insurance Company provided insurance to the Midcaps and brought a separate subrogation action against Sears and Southern States. The plaintiffs asserted that Southern States had a duty to check the gas connections and failed to do so. The plaintiffs introduced proof at trial of the GAS Check program, which was a voluntary inspection program adopted by some propane gas suppliers. The GAS Check program has not been adopted as a mandatory program by any state or federal agency. Various suppliers implement the program in different ways, including performing an inspection when a new customer is added or upon request. The trial court permitted the plaintiffs’ expert to provide testimony regarding the GAS Check program but did not allow the expert to testify that the GAS Check program constituted the relevant standard of care in the propane-supply industry. The jury returned a verdict against Sears and awarded $3.1 million in damages to the plaintiffs. The jury returned a verdict against the plaintiffs on the claims against Southern States. All parties appealed different issues.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jacobs, J.)

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