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Salevan v. Wilmington Park, Inc. - 45 Del. 290, 72 A.2d 239 (1950)

Rule:

The public has a right to the free and unmolested use of the public highways, and abutting landowners may not so use their land as to interfere with the rights of persons lawfully using the highways.

Facts:

Plaintiff Essie Salevan was walking on the public street adjacent to property owned by defendant Wilmington Park, Inc. Wilmington Park owned, maintained, and rented the property for baseball games. Although a fence separated the property from the street, a baseball struck Salevan in the head. Salevan filed a lawsuit against Wilmington Park in Delaware superior court seeking to recover damages for personal injuries she sustained.

Issue:

Was Salevan entitled to recover damages for personal injuries she suffered when she was struck in the head by a baseball that came from Wilmington Park's baseball facility?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

After a bench trial, the trial judge found that, while Wilmington Park took precautions to protect people passing along the street adjacent to its property, those precautions were insufficient. The judge further found that Wilmington Park knew, or should have known, that the precautions taken initially were insufficient to protect the public engaged in its lawful right, that is, using the highways. The judge rendered judgment for Salevan and awarded her $ 250,000 in damages.

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