Turnbull v. Fink

In Turnbull v. Fink, 668 A.2d 1370 (Del. 1995), Delaware had two statutes which provided for waiver of sovereign immunity in tort actions involving its mass transportation system. One statute, Del. Code Ann. Tit. 2, 1329 (1989), waived immunity for tort liability to a maximum of $ 300,000 for each occurrence if the state purchased liability insurance. 668 A.2d at 1373. The other statute, Del. Code Ann. Tit. 18, 6511 (1970), waived immunity to an amount covered by purchased policy limits. Id. The claimant argued that it was potentially entitled to $ 5,000,000 in relief in accordance with the second statute. Id. at 1374. The Turnbull court disagreed. The court stated that the two waiver of immunity statutes must be read together and harmonized, if possible. Id. at 1377 . If the statutes cannot be reconciled, the specific statute must prevail over the general. Id. The court found that it could not harmoniously read the two statutes together. Id. As section 1329 provided a comprehensive, mandatory scheme for relief, the court held that section 1329, being comprehensive and specific, must prevail over section 6511. Id.at 1377. Thus, in Turnbull, Delaware waived sovereign immunity under the statute with comprehensiveness and specificity, Del. Code Ann. Tit. 2, 1329.