Ocotillo West Joint Venture v. Superior Court Case Brief

Summary of Ocotillo West Joint Venture v. Superior Court

Facts: Two men, Zylka and Easley, were golfing and drinking at P’s Golf Course; two of P’s official took the keys from Z because he appeared to be intoxicated; E offered to drive, got the keys back and gave them back to Z after they were outside; Z suffered fatal injuries in a one-car accident; Z’s family sued P; P attempted to bring E into the case alleging that he was partly in fault;

Issue: Whether E should be included in the case based on allegations that he was partially at fault bc he volunteered to drive Z home and then gave him back the keys

Holding: District court dismissed the P’s claim to add E; court of appeals REVERSED, relying on the “good Samaritan" doctrine laid out in section 323 and 324 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts

Reasoning: P’s employees had taken charge of Z and effectively stopped him from driving. E’s offer deterred the employees from their efforts. E discountined his assistance and put Z in a worse position than he was in when P’s employees had possession of his keys. A reasonable fact finder could conclude that E’s actions contributed to Z’s death

Restatement § 323 provides:

One who undertakes, gratuitously or for consideration to render services [***6] to another which he should recognize as necessary for the protection of the other’s person or things, is subject to liability to the other for physical harm resulting from his failure to exercise reasonable care to perform his undertaking, if:
(a) his failure to exercise such care increases the risk of harm, or
(b) the harm is suffered because of the other’s reliance upon the undertaking.

Restatement § 324 provides:

One who, being under no duty to do so, takes charge of another who is helpless adequately to aid or protect himself is subject to liability to the other for any bodily harm caused to him by:
(a) the failure of the actor to exercise reasonable care to secure the safety of the other while within the actor’s charge, or
(b) the actor’s discontinuing his aid or protection, if by so doing he leaves the other in a worse position than when the actor took charge of him.




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