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Edwards v. Honeywell

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
50 F.3d 484 (1995)


Facts

The Bakers contracted with Honeywell, Inc. (defendant) to install an alarm system in their home. The Bakers paid a monthly subscription to Honeywell to monitor the alarm system. One afternoon, a fire broke out in the Bakers’ furnace room, which was located in the basement of the home. Mrs. Baker manually activated the alarm system, which signaled a Honeywell monitor. The Honeywell dispatcher received the signal at 2:54 p.m. and retrieved the Bakers’ account information electronically. The account information instructed the dispatcher to call the Indianapolis Fire Department. However, the Bakers, in fact, lived outside the jurisdiction of the Indianapolis Fire Department. It took the Honeywell dispatcher two more calls to reach the correct fire department. At 2:58 p.m., firemen were dispatched to the fire. At 3:00 p.m., the fire chief arrived at the Bakers’ home. At 3:05, two teams of men began leading hoses through the front door and garage. David Edwards (plaintiff) was leading hose through the garage when the floor collapsed. Edwards fell into the basement and died. Had Honeywell called the correct fire department, firefighters would have been dispatched within 45 seconds, rather than four minutes, of the Bakers’ signal. Edwards’s widow sued Honeywell, alleging Honeywell negligently delayed calling the fire department, because Honeywell had carelessly failed to update its information regarding the fire districts of its subscribers. This delay resulted in the house’s floor being compromised by the time Edwards arrived, causing him to fall to his death. The district court granted Honeywell’s motion for summary judgment. Edwards appealed.

Rule of Law

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Holding and Reasoning (Posner, C.J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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