In a special relationship, one person entrusts himself to the control and protection of another, with a consequent loss of control to protect himself. The duty to protect is imposed upon the person in control because he is in the best position to provide a place of safety. Thus, the determination whether a duty-imposing special relationship exists in a particular case involves the determination whether the plaintiff entrusted himself to the control and protection of the defendant, with a consequent loss of control to protect himself.
While attending an outdoor basketball tournament organized and sponsored by the corporations, plaintiff injured party was struck by a falling tree when a thunderstorm caused the tree to fall. The injured party argued that, because of the special relationship that existed between the defendant corporations and himself, a spectator at the tournament, the corporations were under a duty to warn him of the approaching thunderstorm. The court held that that the corporations were under no duty to warn the injured party of the approaching thunderstorm. Plaintiff appealed and the court affirmed summary juddgment in favor of defendants.
Did a special relationship exist between the litigating parties?
No special relationship existed between the injured party and the corporations as they were not engaged in a business invitee-invitor relationship at the time of the accident and the injured party was not on the land where the basketball tournament was being held in connection "with business dealings" of the corporations. Finally, there was no indication in the record that the injured party entrusted himself to the control and protection of the corporations or that, pursuant to his relationship with the corporations, the injured party lost the ability to protect himself.