Law School Case Brief
Edwards v. Honeywell, Inc. - 50 F.3d 484 (7th Cir. 1995)
A fireman, or a policeman, or other public safety worker injured as a consequence of the negligence of whoever caused the fireman to be summoned has no tort claim against that person
A fireman's widow has sued Honeywell, the provider of an alarm system intended to protect the house where her husband was killed in the line of duty. The suit, filed in an Indiana state court, charges that David John Edwards died because of Honeywell's negligence in failing to call the fire department promptly upon receiving a signal from the alarm. As a result of the delay, the floor of the burning house was in a severely weakened condition by the time the firemen entered, and it collapsed beneath Edwards, plunging him to his death. The district court, to which the suit had been removed under the diversity jurisdiction, granted summary judgment for Honeywell.
Did Honeywell have a duty of care to firefighters engaged in fighting a fire on its customer's premise?
The court affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that Honeywell did breach its care to its customer and that as a consequence the fireman died. The court held, however, that Honeywell's duty of care did not extend to the fireman that was summoned to the blaze. The court stated that the fireman was an unforeseeable victim of Honeywell's negligence, and that the suit failed. The court added that an alternative ground for dismissal of the suit was that liability was barred by the fireman's rule, which stated that a fireman, or policeman, or other public safety worker injured as a consequence of the negligence of whoever caused the fireman to be summoned had no tort claim against that person. The court stated that even if the fireman's rule was inapplicable, Honeywell was still entitled to dismissal.
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