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Ray v. Downes

South Dakota Supreme Court
576 N.W.2d 896 (1998)


Facts

Donald Ray (plaintiff) worked on a farm owned by Harold Downes (defendant). Ray was an experienced farm worker. Downes hired John Wieczorek (defendant) to harvest the farm’s soybean and corn crops. Wieczorek assigned the work to two of his employees, including Phillip Waldner (defendant). Part of harvesting involved driving an 18-wheel tractor-trailer filled with soybeans and corn to the storage bins located on another part of Downes’ farm, then unloading the crops to the bins. The process of unloading the tractor trailer involved parking close to the bin, then positioning an auger beneath the truck. Downes did not ask Ray to help with the harvest. However, Ray observed that Waldner was having difficulty getting the auger beneath his truck near one of the bins. Ray offered to help Waldner by shoving the auger under the truck while Waldner drove the truck. Ray would motion and “holler” for Waldner to stop driving once the auger was in place. Ray got under the truck and put the auger in place while Waldner drove. Waldner did not hear Ray holler and did not see Ray’s signals. The rear wheels of the truck caught Ray’s foot, then ran over his leg and pinned him. Ray was seriously injured. Ray and his wife, Levena Ray, sued Downes, Wieczorek, and Waldner for negligence and loss of consortium. The defendants argued that Ray assumed the risk of his injuries by volunteering to help Waldner. They moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The Rays appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gilbertson, J.)

Dissent (Miller, C.J.)

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