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Adkins v. Ohio State Highway Patrol, 2010 Ohio 5915 (Ohio Ct. of Claims, Nov. 17, 2010).

January 1, 2011
Estate of Ellen Lucille Smith v. Southland Suites of Ormond Beach, LLC, 35 Fla. L. Weekly D145 decided January 8, 2010

The plaintiff, a decedent's estate administrator ("EA"), filed suit against the defendant, the Ohio State Highway Patrol ("OSHP"), alleging that a trooper was negligent when he arrested the driver of a car in which the decedent was riding and left the decedent beside the road without transportation. The passenger in the vehicle was subsequently struck and killed by a motor vehicle while attempting to walk home in the dark. The decedent was left in a well-lit parking lot of a drive-through restaurant. "The general rule is that there is no duty of affirmative action absent a special relation which gives rise to a duty to aid or protect another person. A law enforcement officer having custody of a person stands in a special relation to that person and owes that person a duty of reasonable care and protection." (Emphasis added.) The court found that no special relationship existed between the decedent and the trooper. Further, the trooper did not act negligently when he failed to assess whether the decedent was intoxicated. Her appearance and behavior during the traffic stop did not give him a clear indication that she was impaired or intoxicated. Even if a custodial relationship existed, the officer was not obligated to act unless he knew or should have known that the person was mentally deficient. Rather, the court concluded that the decedent failed to exercise due care for her safety and that she assumed the risk of injury by choosing to leave the safety of the establishments.

Case Law Alert - 1st Qtr 2011

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