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Sears v. Morrison

Court of Appeal of California
90 Cal. Rptr. 2d 528 (1999)


John Morrison (defendant) made an attempt to repair a swamp cooler by placing it onto a furniture dolly and removing its panels, exposing the inner machinery of the cooler. While Morrison was working on the cooler, he left it running. At some point, Morrison attempted to empty an ashtray and slipped on an electrical cord, which in turn caused the cooler to fall onto him, pinning him to the ground. Elda Sears (plaintiff) was with Morrison at the time and was concerned that the cooler would prevent Morrison from breathing or cause him to suffer a heart attack. During an attempt to remove the cooler from Morrison, Sear’s hand was severely cut by a moving part from the still-running cooler. Sears brought an action in negligence against Morrison to recover damages for the injury to her hand. At trial, the court determined that the rescue doctrine did not apply and granted summary judgment in favor of Morrison. Sears filed a notice of appeal, but ultimately, judgment was granted by the trial court in favor of Morrison. Sears appealed, arguing that the rescue doctrine applied because she was injured while attempting to rescue Morrison from a dangerous situation caused by Morrison’s negligent conduct.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Morrison, J.)

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