Friday, December 14, 2007

Cole v. German Savings

I've read a lot of cases this semester but this one sticks out in both my mind. I could only remember the facts, but Kat was able to give me the name: Cole v. German Savings. This is my favorite case in Torts so far and is on my list of strange cases to remember.

An elevator shaft was empty and under construction. A strange little boy about 13 years old impersonated the usual elevator boy by dressing up in his costume. He then led a woman to the shaft and let her fall down the hole.

Lexis Nexis:
Plaintiff elevator patron appealed a judgment of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Utah that the patron could not recover from defendant building owner in a personal injury action.

OVERVIEW: The patron was injured when she fell into an open elevator shaft. A young man about 13 years of age had preceded the patron to the elevator, opened the door, and invited the patron to pass into the shaft. The crucial question in the case was whether or not the negligence of the building owner was the proximate cause of the injury to the patron. The district court entered judgment in favor of the building owner. On appeal, the court affirmed. The court found that there was no evidence that the patron's injuries resulted from acts or omissions of the building owner. Rather, there was positive and convincing testimony that the patron's injuries were caused by the wrongful act of the young man, who was a trespasser. The building owner could not foresee or reasonably anticipate the young man's violation of the law and trespass upon its property. The young man's voluntary act broke the chain of causation between any prior negligence of the owner and the patron's injury. The owner's acts were not a proximate cause of the accident.

OUTCOME: The court affirmed the judgment of the district court.


  1. This is why everything is so damn expensive in this world, people just go after money. Why didn't she sue the kid? It's obviously his fault. Oh wait, the building owner has money.

  2. Landowner's liability and duty to care. The kid was a strange one. I laughed so hard b/c i can visualize the woman falling down the shaft.


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