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Broadway v. Rogers, Del. C.P., C.A. No. CPU4-13-003479, Smalls, J. (Oct. 1, 2014) (ORDER)

Court of Common Pleas Awards Pro Se Plaintiff Damages for Costs Incurred as a Result of Execution of Warrant Directed at Defendant

On November 12, 2013, Patricia Broadway (“Broadway”) filed a pro se complaint alleging, in part, that Maurice L. Rogers (“Rogers”) was negligent causing property damage to plaintiff’s home resulting from the execution of a search warrant of which Rodgers was the target. Broadway alleged that Rogers was involved in illegal drug sales and was subject to a search warrant executed at her home. During the execution of the search warrant, her home was damaged by the police, and Broadway alleged that Rogers was vicariously liable for that damage done to her property by the police. Rogers denied that he was liable for the damage to the house on the basis of assumption of risk in that Broadway knew he was a drug dealer but still allowed him to live there. Further, Rogers argued that he advised Broadway to open the door when he saw the police running towards the house in attempt to mitigate damages, but Broadway refused.

The Court held that Rogers was liable for the damages to Broadway’s property because Rogers’ actions led to activities which caused such damage. Rogers’ testimony indicated that he was engaged in the trade of selling illicit drugs, but there was no evidence that Broadway was involved in the drug trade. Broadway was not named in the search warrant, which focused only on the illegal activity of Rogers. The Court held that Rogers’ illegal activity exposed Broadway and her property to a raid by the police. The Court determined that it was reasonably foreseeable that someone engaged in the illegal drug trade would at some point be arrested, and their place of residence would become subject of a police search. The Court found that “but for” Rogers’ illegal activity, the damage would not have occurred due to the execution of the search warrant directed at Rogers. Therefore, the Court awarded Plaintiff damages to repair her property.

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