Sunday, March 24, 2013

Moody v. Delta Western, Inc. case brief

Moody v. Delta Western, Inc. case brief summary
38 P.3d 1139 (Alaska 2002)

SYNOPSIS: In the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Dillingham (Alaska), plaintiff police chief filed suit against defendant company, alleging the company, through its employee, was negligent. The company was granted summary judgment based on a firefighter's rule defense. The police chief appealed.

-July 25, 1996, a Delta Western employee left a fuel truck owned by Delta Western in a driveway in Dillingham.
-The keys were in the ignition, the door was unlocked, and the truck contained fuel and weighed over 10,000 pounds.
-Delta Western had a policy of removing the keys from the ignitions of its trucks.
-Delta Western enacted this policy due to past incidents involving the theft and unauthorized entry of its trucks.
-Joseph Coolidge, who was highly intoxicated, entered the unlocked truck and proceeded to drive around Dillingham.
-He ran cars off the road, nearly collided with several vehicles, and drove at speeds exceeding 70 MPH.
-Brent Moody, the police chief, was one of the officers who responded to the reports of the recklessly driven fuel truck.
-The driver of the van in which Moody was a passenger attempted to stop the truck after moving in front of it, but Coolidge rammed the van, throwing Moody against the dashboard and windshield. Moody suffered permanent injuries.

-The firefighter's rule reflected sound public policy and applied in Alaska.
-In the final analysis, the policy decision was that it would be too burdensome to charge all who carelessly caused conditions requiring a response by a public safety official with the injuries suffered by the expert retained with public funds to deal with those inevitable, although negligently created, conditions.
-Requiring members of the public to pay for injuries incurred by officers in such responses asked an individual to pay again for services the community had collectively purchased.

-The firefighter's rule, barring recovery for the negligence that creates the need for a public safety officer's service, does not apply
to negligent conduct occurring after a police officer or firefighter arrives at the scene or to misconduct other than that which necessitates the officer's presence.
-Such misconduct may include failure to warn of pre-existing known but hidden dangers.
-The firefighter's rule does not bar recovery where a police officer is injured while performing a law enforcement activity unrelated to violation that necessitated his presence at the scene.

OUTCOME: Summary judgment was properly granted.

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