Detrimental reliance exception If the victim detrimentally relied on the rescue

Detrimental reliance exception if the victim

  • Brooklyn Law School
  • TORTS 101
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  • charlenewarner
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Detrimental reliance exception: If the victim detrimentally relied on the rescue or a third person is deterred from rescuing the victim and the rescuer did a bad job – then the person being rescued is worse off. Therefore, the rescuer will be liable. RULE: No general duty to rescue , exception: 1. An undertaking can create a duty 2. Can stop if victim is not worse off a. Increase danger b. Deprive victim of a chance of other aid c. Induce victim to forego aid in reliance If D has superior knowledge (expert/professional), D will be held to a higher standard of duty of care. 71
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Torts – David Fischer Charlene Warner, 0399112 L.S. Ayres & Co. v Hicks Indiana, 1942 Rule: A party may be under a legal duty to rescue a person who is helpless or in a situation of peril when the party is an invitor of the person, or when an injury results from use of an instrumentality under the control of the party. Facts The plaintiff, a six-year-old, was in the defendant’s department store when he fell and injured his fingers in the store’s escalator. The defendant negligently delayed stopping the escalator which made the plaintiff’s injuries worse. The plaintiff brought suit for his injuries and the trial court found in his favor. The defendant moved for a new trial and the motion was denied. The defendant appealed. Issue Does an invitor have a duty to help or rescue an invitee helpless or in danger on the invitor’s property? Holding and Reasoning (Shake, C.J.) Yes. Although there is no general duty to rescue a person in danger, a legal duty arises when a party is an invitor of the endangered person, or when an injury results from use of an instrumentality under the control of the party. This represents a principle of social conduct that is “so universally recognized” that a duty must be created. In the present case, the plaintiff was an invitee in the defendant’s department store. In addition, the plaintiff was injured using an escalator— an instrumentality under the control of the defendant. Consequently, a duty arose for the department store to assist the child after the initial injury occurred. When the defendant negligently delayed shutting off the escalator, it violated its duty and is liable for that breach. However, the defendant is only liable for the aggravation of the plaintiff’s injuries after the initial injury occurred because that is when the duty to rescue came about. As a result, the trial court’s award of full damages must be reduced. The judgment is reversed and the defendant’s motion for a new trial should be granted. Where there is a special relationship between the P and the D, it can give rise to a duty on the part of the D to aid the P: Here, the D is an invitor and and P is an invitee (there is an economic benefit involved); OR The instrumentality is under the control of the D.
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