Gordon v. AMTRAK, C.A. No. 10753, 1997 Del. Ch. LEXIS 52 (Del. Ch. Mar.19, 1997) (summary judgment opinion); 2001 Del. Ch. LEXIS 168 (Del. Ch. Dec. 17, 2001) (post trial report)
Daniel B. Rath, while at Duane, Morris & Heckscher, represented Defendants Ellerbe, Becket Architects and Engineers, Inc., Ellerbe Becket, Inc. and Ellerbe Builders, Inc. (together “Ellerbe”) in an action involving nuisance and trespass claims arising out of the dumping of hazardous materials. Plaintiffs alleged Ellerbe was negligent as demonstrated by the failure to ensure that contaminated fill would not be deposited on plaintiffs’ property and the failure to adhere to the standard of care applicable to architects and engineers. Ellerbe contended that because its professional duties were limited to the design, not the oversight or implementation, of specifications, it satisfied its professional duties and could not be held responsible for the plaintiffs’ harm. And, even if it did owe a duty to the plaintiffs, Ellerbe contended that plaintiffs’ negligence claim failed because plaintiffs could not show that Ellerbe’s conduct was the proximate cause of the fill’s placement. While factual disputes precluded summary judgment in favor of Ellerbe because it is not possible to tell whether Ellerbe should have anticipated and guarded against subsequent negligent conduct by AMTRAK or any other party, then Master Glasscock held after trial that Ellerbe had no reason to anticipate the negligence of Amtrak and DCP, and was therefore not liable to the plaintiffs.
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