Monday, November 11, 2013

Spengler v. ADT Security Services, Inc. case brief

Spengler v. ADT Security Services, Inc. case brief summary
505 F.3d 456 (2007)

Plaintiff customer appealed from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, which granted defendant security company's motion for summary judgment in the customer's wrongful death action that arose when the company failed to dispatch an ambulance to the customer's mother after she pressed a company-issued emergency call button.


The residential service contract included an emergency response button. Due to an error in the address that the company gave to ambulance dispatchers in response to the alarm, emergency medical services were delayed in their arrival at the mother's residence by approximately sixteen minutes. By the time emergency personnel arrived, the mother's heart rhythm was asystolic. She never regained consciousness and later died in the hospital. The district found that the customer's claim sounded in contract rather than in tort and that the company breached its contract. Damages were limited to the amount stated in the parties' agreement.


  • On appeal, the court found that the company's obligation to promptly and correctly dispatch an ambulance emanated only from the contract, not Michigan common law, and thus no tort claim was available. 
  • Where the only violation was that of a broken promise to perform a contract, and there existed no independent duty outside the contract, and liability, if any, rested solely upon a breach of the contract. 
  • The customer failed to raise remaining issues before the district court and thus, those issues were not properly before the court.

The court affirmed the judgment.

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