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Baker v. Fenneman & Brown Properties, LLC

Citation. 793 N.E.2d 1203 (Ind. App. 2003)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff, through no fault of the defendant, was injured in the Defendants store, upon which Defendants employees failed to sufficiently care for him.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

As a common carrier inviting members of the public to enter and use their establishment, Defendant owes a duty of care and reasonable assistance to its patrons even when they are not the cause of the injury.


Plaintiff entered the store of the defendant after feeling nauseous.  While ordering his food, he passed out and started having convulsions.  While there is disagreement by the parties as to the exact nature of the interaction, a cashier came around the counter, and asked him if he was ok and if he wanted an ambulance, to which Baker apparently declined.  Baker stood up, then fell unconscious again, this time falling forward into the counter, breaking teeth and a vertebra.


The substantive issue is whether the defendants, as a common carrier, owed plaintiff a duty of care under the circumstances?


Yes, the Defendants had a duty of care to assist and care for Plaintiff.


The decision rests on a tripartite analysis analysis of 1)the relationship between the parties, 2) the reasonable foreseeability of harm to the person injured, and 3) public policy concerns.  The Court finds that the relationship of the parties support a duty of care; a common carrier who invites in the public is inherently acknowledging the possibility of unforeseen and unrelated injury.  With regard to the second prong, the court was satisfied that it would not impose an undue burden, nor compel a business to act under circumstance that it should not already have taken action.  Finally, the Court found that public policy favored the duty of care to provide assistance.

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