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Pridham v. Cash & Carry Bldg. Center
New Hampshire Supreme Court
359 A. 2d 193 (1976)
Herbert Pridham went to the Cash & Carry Building Center (defendant) to buy paneling. The store kept the paneling stacked upright against a rack with a display cover sheet and a rope tied around it to keep the stack from falling over. It was a windy day, with the garage doors on both ends of the showroom open. When the clerk removed the rope and cover sheet, the paneling fell on Pridham, causing serious injuries. An ambulance arrived to transport Pridham to the hospital, but the driver apparently suffered a heart attack and crashed on the way, sending Pridham’s stretcher through a glass partition into the cab. Pridham was pronounced dead later that day. Pridham’s estate (plaintiff) sued the store, the driver’s estate, and the town, but the latter two settled out before trial. The clerk said he was told not to stack the paneling “straight” because it would fall when the rope was removed, exactly as it did. Another witness testified that straight stacking made the cover sheet pull sheets forward behind it, causing them to fall. The judge instructed the jury that someone liable for an injury was also liable “for any additional bodily harm resulting from normal efforts of third persons in rendering aid . . . which the other’s injury reasonably requires irrespective of whether such acts are done in a proper or in a negligent manner.” The judge explained that if the jury found the store was liable and the ambulance crash resulted from others providing reasonable aid, damages would include injuries from the crash. The jury found the store liable for all Pridham’s injuries. The store appealed, arguing that the court erroneously instructed the jury and that the award violated the collateral-source rule.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Lampron, J.)
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