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Estate of Cilley v. Lane

Maine Supreme Court
985 A.2d 481 (2009)


Jennifer Lane (defendant) and Joshua Cilley had dated off and on for about eighteen months when Lane said they needed a break. The next day, after drinking beers with friends, Lane returned to her trailer. When Cilley showed up, Lane told him to leave, but he refused. Cilley got a small-caliber rifle from his car or somewhere in Lane’s trailer. Lane heard a pop like a firecracker as she headed for the door. Not seeing any blood, Lane went to her friends’ trailer and said Cilley had just pretended to shoot himself. Her friends saw Cilley lying partway outside, turning white, mumbling “It was an accident.” The friends called 911, but Cilley died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the abdomen. According to the treating physician, Cilley could have been resuscitated had he arrived at the hospital five to 10 minutes earlier. Cilley’s estate (plaintiff) sued Lane based on negligent failure to assist and conscious pain and suffering. The trial court granted Lane summary judgment, finding no duty to rescue or render emergency aid absent a special relationship between the parties. The court considered Cilley a trespasser, not a guest to whom Lane owed a heightened duty of care. Cilley’s estate appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Gorman, J.)

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