Baker v. Fenneman & Brown Props., L.L.C.

793 N.E.2d 1203



A restaurant whose employees are reasonably on notice that a customer is in distress and in need of emergency medical attention has a legal duty to come to the assistance of that customer. However, a restaurant does not have a duty to provide medical training to its food service personnel, or medical rescue services to its customers who become ill or injured through no act or omission of the restaurant or its employees. A restaurant in these circumstances meets its legal duty to a customer in distress when it summons medical assistance within a reasonable time. 


Plaintiff customer sued defendant restaurant, alleging that the restaurant breached its duty to render assistance to him until he could be cared for by others, and gross negligence, wanton disregard, and wanton recklessness. The customer entered the restaurant when he became nauseous and fell backward, hitting his head on the floor, was knocked unconscious, and then began having convulsions. Moments after he stood up, the customer fell again, was knocked unconscious, and suffered injuries. When he regained consciousness, he stumbled out of the restaurant and was taken to the hospital by his fiancé. The doctor determined that the customer experienced a form of fainting that resulted from stress. The customer sought damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. The restaurant moved for summary judgment which the superior court granted. The customer appealed.


Does a restaurant have a duty to render assistance to a customer who collapses and injures himself on its premises, when he fainted due to stress, and not because the restaurant was responsible for the illness?




The court of appeals concluded that the restaurant had a duty to provide reasonable assistance to the customer even though it was not responsible for the customer’s illness. The restaurant had a duty to take reasonable action to give aid to the customer after he fell and to care for him until he could be cared for by others. Whether that duty was breached was a question precluding summary judgment. The judgment of the trial court was reversed and the case was remanded for trial.

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