Three guys walk into a bar. The decision did not indicate the race or religion of either of the three men, but its clear none of them was the Pope or a Rabbi. These individuals, Dorsey, Reider and Noordhoek got drunk leading to Dorsey telling Reider he was “acting like an ass***”. After Dorsey left the bar, Reider and Noordhoek pursued and trapped him between Reider’s truck and an adjacent vehicle. While Dorsey was attempting to get by Reider who held him back, Noordhoek retrieved a tomahawk from Reider’s truck and hit Dorsey in the head with it causing injury. Reider and Noordjoek fled the scene. A jury awarded Dorsey nearly $1 million against Reider, but it was reversed when the appeals court found that Reider owed no duty to Dorsey to prevent the independent act by Noordhoek. The Supreme Court of Florida reversed, and reinstated the jury verdict. In its ruling, the Court held that although there is no general duty to prevent the assault by a third person, such a duty of care can be created if one’s actions create a “zone of risk” whereby it is foreseeable that injury could result. The Court noted that whether such a zone of risk was created was a matter for the Court to decide. The Court noted that this was a different question than whether proximate cause existed between the injury and the breach of said duty. This being a fact issue for the jury to decide. Here, the Court believed that Reiders’ actions in trapping plaintiff between the cars and holding him while Noordhoek obtained his tomahawk created such a zone of risk and also found that the jury’s determination that his actions were a substantial or proximate cause of Dorsey’s injury was not against the weight of the evidence.
The Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the Order of the Supreme Court, Bronx County which granted summary judgment to the YMCA in a locker room slip and fall accident. The female plaintiff, who had been in the women’s locker room, with her daughter, for fifteen minutes, without noticing any water on the locker room floor, allegedly slipped and fell on a puddle of water in close proximity to the bench where she had changed into her bathing suit prior to an aqua aerobics class in the YMCA’s indoor pool.