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Davidson v. City of Westminster

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Davidson filed a negligence suit against the City of Westminster when two police officers who were dispatched to safeguard a laundromat failed to warn Davidson of the presence of a suspected perpetrator.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A duty to warn exists if a special relationship exists between the actor and third party where the actor must control the third party’s actions, or the third party has a right to protection.

    Facts.

    Davidson was stabbed in a Laundromat, and in the days leading up to the incident, three other women were stabbed in the same Laundromat. The City of Westminster (City) dispatched two police officers to safeguard the Laundromat. Although the police officers saw a man enter and leave the Laundromat that fit the description of the perpetrator, they failed to warn Davidson. Davidson filed a negligence suit and the trial court dismissed.

    Issue.

    Whether a duty to warn exists if a special relationship exists between the actor and third party where the actor must control the third party’s actions, or the third party has a right to protection?

    Held.

    Yes. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed. No special relationship existed between either the officers and Davidson or the officers and the perpetrator, therefore no duty to warn existed.

    Discussion.

    A duty to warn exists if a special relationship exists between the actor and third party where the actor must control the third party’s actions, or the third party has a right to protection. To determine duty to warn, courts consider: (1) the foreseeability of the harm, (2) the link between the actor’s conduct and the harm, (3) the moral blame associated with the actor’s conduct, (4) the possibility of preventing future harm, (5) any consequences to the community associated with a failure to warn.


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