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Rescuer Saving Property from Damage Does Not Assume Risk
Description Worker was injured when responding to yells for help to put out a kitchen fire. His rescue efforts did not invoke the doctrine of assumption of the risk, so the property owner was liable in negligence for the injury suffered by the worker.
Topic Torts
Key Words Assumption of Risk, Negligence
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Boddie negligently started a fire in her kitchen. She called Scott (an electrician who was working at her home) to help her put the fire out, which he did, but he severely burned his hands. Trial court found Boddie liable for injury to Scott. Boddie appealed, contending that Scott is barred from recovery under the assumption of risk doctrine.
Decision Affirmed. To "establish the defense of assumption of risk, the defendant must show that the plaintiff: (1) had knowledge of the risk of the danger; (2) appreciated that risk; and (3) voluntarily confronted the risk of danger." Here, the first two conditions are met, but not the third. Scott was attempting to rescue Boddie's property in an emergency situation. Such situations are "a species of duress." He did not want to be in this position, but, when faced with the choice of letting the house burn or save it, he acted to prevent damage.
Citation Boddie v. Scott, 1999 WL 9556 (Slip Copy, Ct. Spec. App., Md.)
722 A.2d 407 (Ct. Spec. App., Mary., 1999)

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