Summary judgment is appropriate if a plaintiff has no reasonable expectation of proving that the injury to the plaintiff was a foreseeable result of the defendant's negligent conduct.
The victim was watering the homeowner's flowers as a favor. Upon grabbing the outside water faucet, he received an electric shock that threw him through the air, melted his sneakers and glasses, set his pants on fire, and knocked his dental plate from his mouth. He suffered serious injuries. The victim brought an action against the homeowner and his wife to recover for personal injuries he suffered as a result of receiving a severe electric shock and filed a negligence claim against for damages. The trial court granted the homeowner's motion for summary judgment and the victim appealed.
Was summary judgment in favor of defendant proper where the injury was so unlikely that defendant could not be expected to guard against it?
The Court held that summary judgment was properly granted because the harm the victim suffered was so highly extraordinary that the homeowner could not be required to guard against it. The victim's severe and unfortunate injuries were the consequence of the type of unforeseeable accident for which the homeowner was not to be held responsible in tort. Although a variety of foreseeable injuries arising out of a defective toilet could be envisioned, the electric shock to a neighbor when he touched a faucet outside the house was well beyond the range of reasonable apprehension and therefore was not foreseeable.