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Baker v. Fenneman& Brown Properties, L.L.C.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Aaron Baker fell in Taco Bell at no fault of the company and sued Taco Bell for not offering care to Baker until Baker could be cared for elsewhere.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    The owner of land or property open to the public has a duty to protect public entities who enter the land from any risk of harm and must provide aid if those members of the public are injured while on the property.

    Facts.

    Aaron Baker (Baker) fell in Taco Bell, became unconscious, and began having convulsions. Baker claimed that no Taco Bell employee offered him any assistance, while Taco Bell argued that Baker insisted for them not to call an ambulance. Baker fell a second time after attempting to get up following the restoration of his consciousness. Although the fall was no fault of Taco Bell’s, Baker sued Fenneman Brown Properties, L.L.C. (Taco Bell) under the presumption that Taco Bell had a duty to offer care to Baker until Baker could be cared for by others. Summary judgment was granted in favor of Taco Bell by the trial court under the presumption that Taco Bell did not have a duty to assist Baker if the company was not the cause of Baker’s injuries. Baker appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether the owner of public land or property owes a duty of care to those who enter the property?

    Held.

    Yes. Reversed and remanded.

    Discussion.

    The Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 314A requires that owners of land that open the land to the public have a duty to protect members of the public from unreasonable harm, to provide first aid when those public entities are ill or injured, and to care for those individuals until they can seek care elsewhere. Owners of land maintain this duty of care despite whether or not the property, objects within the property, or third parties caused injury to the plaintiff. Because Taco Bell invites the public onto the property in order to conduct business, Taco Bell had a duty to assist Baker until he could seek care elsewhere.


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