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Pachunka v. Rogers Construction, Inc.

Nebraska Supreme Court
716 N.W.2d 728 (2006)


Jerry Pachunka (plaintiff) worked as a sales agent showing homes constructed by Rogers Construction, Inc. (defendant) to prospective buyers. As part of his job, he checked on whether a house under construction was ready for showing. To access the house, Pachunka walked across a walkway of scrap lumber that Rogers had built to avoid a muddy area, then up a ramp angled up to the stoop. Pachunka could not have stepped the 16 inches up from the ground to the stoop without using the ramp because of his back condition and did not have a key to the garage entrance. He entered the house without incident but slipped and fell on the ramp on the way out. In the ensuing negligence action, Rogers asserted that Pachunka assumed the risk of falling from the ramp, precluding his recovery. Pachunka asked the court to instruct the jury that (1) assumption of risk must be voluntary, and (2) is not voluntary if the injured person had no reasonable alternative. The court denied Pachunka’s request and gave a different instruction on assumption of risk. The jury returned a verdict for Rogers, and Pachunka appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (McCormack, J.)

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