L.S. Ayres & Co. v. Hicks Case Brief

Summary of L.S. Ayres & Co. v. Hicks, S. Ct. of Indiana, 1942

Failure to Act

Relevant Facts: John Hicks, the appellee, a six year old boy, visited the appellant’s department store in company with his mother, who was engaged in shopping. While descending from the third floor on an escalator, the appellee fell at the second floor landing and some fingers of both his hands were caught in the moving parts of the escalator at the place where it disappears into the floor. the escalator on which appellee was injured was equipped with switch buttons at each floor landing by which it could be stopped in about 2 1/2 steps; that appellant had clerks working within 50 feet of the place where appellee was injured, all of whom had not been instructed how to stop the escalator;

Legal Issue(s): Whether ?

Court’s Holding:

Procedure: Personal injury action by John Hicks, by Wendell Hicks, his next friend, against L. S. Ayres & Company. A judgment for plaintiff was affirmed by the Appellate Court, and the cause was transferred to the Supreme Court Judgment reversed with directions.

Law or Rule(s): Under some circumstances, moral and humanitarian considerations may require one to render assistance to another who has been injured, even though the injury was not due to negligence on his part and may have been caused by the negligence of the injured person. Failure to render assistance in such a situation may constitute actionable negligence if the injury is aggravated through lack of due care

Court Rationale: The appellee was an invitee and he received his initial injury in using an instrumentality provided by the appellant and under its control, this was a sufficient relationship to impose a duty upon the appellant. Appellant can only be charged with failure to exercise reasonable care to avoid aggravation. The measure of that duty is not unlike that imposed by the rule of the last clear chance or doctrine of discovered peril . The jury should have been limited and restricted in assessing the damages to the injuries that were the proximate result of the appellant’s actionable negligence. those injuries which occurred as a result of their failure to adhere to the duty and which breach aggravated the injury.

Defendant’s Argument: There could have been no incidental duty on the appellant to anticipate an accident, to instruct its employees, or to keep someone in attendance when the machine was in operation.

Last Chance- To invoke the application of the last clear chance as it has been defined in this state, the defendant must have had knowledge of the plaintiff’s situation of peril and of his helpless condition and, thereafter, have failed to exercise reasonable care to avoid harming him.

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