L.S. Ayres & Co. v. Hicks

Quick Facts

–          L.S. Ayres & Co. (Defendant) v.  Hicks (Plaintiff)

–          There was no negligence in the construction of the escalator.

–          Here the Defendant, since he owned the instrumentality that the Plaintiff was hurt on, owes a duty of care after the kid already was hurt, because the person was injured using the defendant’s stuff and on their property.

–          Such an obligation can exist although the accident or original injury was caused by the negligence of the plaintiff or through that of a third person and without any fault from the defendant.

–          There is NO general duty to rescue a person in peril.

Procedural History

–          Appellate court states that the D should only owe a duty for after the P got hurt, since the P got hurt from his own negligence, and not the D’s.

–          Once the P was hurt, the D then had a duty to help, because the P was at the D’s department store.

Facts

–          Mother was at a department store, and due to the Plaintiffs own fault he got his finger stuck in the elevator.

–          The trial court awarded damages for the occurrence of the injury and then the furthering of the injury while the kid was still stuck.

–          D unreasonably delayed the stopping of the elevator, after the P’s fingers got stuck as a result the P’s injuries were further aggravated.

Issue

Does a store owner or invitor have the duty to rescue a person in peril if the instrumentality cause in the person’s injury is in control of the owner or inviter?

Holding

YES, but only for the aggravated injuries, and not for their stupid accident.

Rule

–          There is a legal obligation to take action or affirmative steps to effect the rescue of a person who is helpless or in a situation of peril when the on proceeded against is a master or invitor, or when the injury resulted from use of an instrumentality under the control of the defendant.

–          Such an obligation can exist although the accident or original injury was caused by the negligence of the plaintiff or through that of a third person and without any fault from the defendant.

Court reasoning

–          Purely moral obligations to help someone in peril, the law does not accept or give a duty to do so (“coach potato”).

–          If injury is aggravated from the lack of due care, there is a duty to assist.

–          I.e. if you are an employer, and your employee gets hurt on your property, you are not liable for the negligence, but after the person is injured, you owe a duty to not aggravate the injury from unreasonable actions.

–          Master and servant, carrier and passenger.

–          In the present case –

  • The plaintiff was an invitee and received his initial injury using an instrumentality provided by the D and under its control.
  • That was a sufficient relationship to impose a duty on the D, even though the actual injury was not his fault.
  • Since the duty arose AFTER the initial injury the appellant cannot be charged with its anticipation or prevention but only with failure to exercise reasonable care to AVOID AGGREVATION.
  • Damages must be limited to the proximate result of the D’s negligence, and not the initial injury, itself.

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