Synopsis of Rule of Law. One who voluntarily undertakes to render services to another is liable for bodily harm caused by his failure to perform such services with due care or with such competence and skill as he possesses.Â
Issue. Whether defendants’ actions demonstrated a voluntary undertaking concerning decedent’s well-being such that they had a duty to exercise due care in the performance of that undertaking.
Held. Yes.Â One who voluntarily undertakes to render services to another is liable for bodily harm caused by his failure to perform such services with due care or with such competence and skill as he possesses.Â Although the defendants claimed that none of their acts indicated a voluntary assumption of responsibility for the decedent, the court disagreed.Â The court found that Michael and Brian Mraz demonstrated an undertaking concerning decedent’s well-being by carrying decedent downstairs, placing her on a couch, checking on her, changing her vomit-saturated shirt, and placing a pillow under her head.Â Accordingly, the court of appeals held that the trial court erred in dismissing counts based on voluntary undertaking.
Discussion. The Restatement Third of Torts Â§ 43 recognizes that an actor who undertakes to render services to another, when the actor knows or should know that those services will reduce the risk of harm to the other, has a duty to exercise reasonable care in rendering those services if the failure to exercise reasonable care would increase the risk of harm beyond which would have existed without the undertaking; or if the other person relies on the actor’s using reasonable care in the undertaking.