Was Cart Maintenance Company Liable Because “Danger Invited Rescue?”
According to her deposition testimony, on March 11, 2015, Joy Corpin, a nurse at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, was rolling a computer cart on wheels when a wheel came off the cart. Corpin held the cart to keep it from toppling down, because she did not want the monitor damaged. She then pushed the cart up against the wall and held it to secure it and prevent it from falling on people in the hallway. Corpin was asked to lift the cart so her coworkers could re-attach the wheel. She lifted the cart from underneath “with all” of her strength and injured her back. At her deposition, Corpin testified that when the wheel came off on a prior occasion, the engineering department was called.
Corpin sued Derive Technology, LLC, which was charged with maintaining and repairing the equipment. Derive moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, claiming that the sole proximate cause of the accident was Corpin’s act of lifting the cart on her own. In opposition, Corpin asserted that she was compelled to aid with the repair pursuant to the doctrine of “danger invites rescue.”
Supreme Court granted Derive’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that the sole proximate cause of the accident was Corpin’s lifting the cart in an attempt to repair it. The Court held that the concept of “danger invites rescue” was inapplicable. Corpin appealed.
Pursuant to the concept of danger invites rescue, the risk that a plaintiff would attempt to rescue the victim of the defendant’s negligence, if only it be not wanton, is a foreseeable risk. However, the danger invites rescue principle only applies if there is evidence that the victim to be rescued—in this case other persons using the hallway—was in imminent and life-threatening peril.
Corpin argued that the cart had to be fixed, to avoid it from toppling over on someone using the hallway. However, at her deposition, she testified that she did not want the cart to topple over because she did not want the monitor to be damaged. Corpin was able to secure the cart by holding it against the wall. On those facts, the concept of danger invites rescue did not apply. Rather, Derive merely furnished an occasion for the accident, which was not sufficient to impose liability.