Fletcher v. City of Aberdeen

338 P.2d 743 (Wash. 1959)


The city dug a ditch in a parking strip adjacent to a sidewalk to place electric wires underground.  Suitable barricades had been erected to protect pedestrians from falling into the excavation, but a city employee had removed the barriers to make his work easier.  When he went elsewhere to work, he did not replace the barricades.  Plaintiff’s husband, who was blind, fell into the excavation.

Procedural History

A jury returned a verdict for plaintiff.


Did plaintiff’s disability impose a higher degree of care on the defendant?

Holding / Rule

Yes.  While a person with a physical disability is obliged to exercise the care which a reasonable person under the same or similar disability would exercise under the circumstances, the party creating the danger must afford the degree of protection necessary to provide notice of the danger to that person.


The city is charged with knowledge that its streets will be used not only by those in perfect physical condition, but by physically infirm individuals.  While the city did not necessarily have to erect a complete barricade, the obligation of the city to keep its streets and sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition required it to at least provide a warning to individuals, including disabled ones, of the danger.

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