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Woodall v. Wayne Steffner Productions, Inc.

District Court of Appeal of California
20 Cal. Rptr. 572 (1962)


Alphonse Woodall (plaintiff) performed a stunt in which he sat on a kite attached to a moving boat or car and gave the impression of flying through the air. Woodall had done the stunt hundreds of times without suffering injury and could control every aspect of the kite’s flight except for the boat or car’s speed. Woodall required an experienced, qualified driver who could understand speed signals that Woodall gave during the stunt. It was important that the vehicle’s speed was reduced immediately upon the kite’s becoming airborne. It was also vital that the speed of the vehicle never go above 30 miles per hour. Wayne Steffner Productions, Inc. (Steffner) (defendant) hired Woodall to perform the stunt for a television show. Woodall informed Steffner that his primary requirement was to have a qualified driver. Woodall offered to bring his own driver, but Steffner assured him that it would provide an experienced, qualified driver to assist with the stunt. Steffner provided Jerome Welo (defendant) to do the driving for the stunt. Woodall gave Welo specific instructions and informed him of all requirements and signals necessary for a successful stunt, including the speed limit. In the performance of the stunt, Welo started too slowly, attempted to overcorrect, and eventually got up to speeds above 40 miles per hour, according to estimates of Woodall and an expert witness. As a result of the high speed, the kite crashed, and Woodall was seriously injured. Woodall brought a negligence suit against the defendants. The defendants argued that Woodall assumed the risk. The trial court found in favor of Woodall, and the defendants appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ashburn, J.)

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