Spot the Tort: In Case of Emergency … Well, Maybe Not

Lift handset in case of emergency.Long distance information, give me … ANYONE!

Can you spot the potentially tortious risk?

Contrary to Murphy’s Law, most things in life usually go right when it comes to risk and injury.  Except in Tortland where the worst that can happen always does.

Picture a guest with an emergency, maybe a heart attack or a criminal attack.  They reach for the emergency phone as instructed and … oops. No phone.

Easy fix: just take down the sign.  No legal duty exists to provide an emergency phone in most situations, but one can assume a duty under tort law that would not otherwise exist by undertaking to render a service that people rely on and then performing it without reasonable care (i.e., negligently).

–Thanks to Pam Hatchell.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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