Truesee's Daily Wonder

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

 

Good Samaritan Being Sued For Saving Accident Victim

PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press Writer Paul Elias, Associated Press Writer – Friday Dec 26, 6:22 pm ET

LOS ANGELES – Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, the state's high court on Thursday said a would-be Good Samaritan accused of rendering her friend paraplegic by pulling her from a wrecked car "like a rag doll" can be sued.

California's Supreme Court ruled that the state's Good Samaritan law only protects people from liability if the are administering emergency medical care, and that Lisa Torti's attempted rescue of her friend didn't qualify.

Justice Carlos Moreno wrote for a unanimous court that a person is not obligated to come to someone's aid.

"If, however, a person elects to come to someone's aid, he or she has a duty to exercise due care," he wrote.

Torti had argued that she should still be protected from a lawsuit because she was giving "medical care" when she pulled her friend from a car wreck.

Alexandra Van Horn was in the front passenger seat of a car that slammed into a light pole at 45 mph on Nov. 1, 2004, according to her negligence lawsuit.

Torti was a passenger in a car that was following behind the vehicle and stopped after the crash. Torti said when she came across the wreck she feared the car was going to explode and pulled Van Horn out. Van Horn testified that Torti pulled her out of the wreckage "like a rag doll." Van Horn blamed her friend for her paralysis.

Whether Torti is ultimately liable is still to be determined, but Van Horn's lawsuit can go forward, the Supreme Court ruled.

Beverly Hills lawyer Robert Hutchinson, who represented Van Horn, said he's pleased with the ruling.

Torti's attorney, Ronald Kent, of Los Angeles didn't immediately return a telephone call


Comments:
This is a very dangerous lawsuit, and Beverly Hills lawyer Robert Hutchinson should be harshly admonished for filing it.

     For many years, American courts have held that a police officer has no duty or obligation to put himself in harm's way to protect a citizen, but most of us still believe that cops will come to our rescue when we're in trouble. Van Horn's lawsuit will only serve to perpetuate a society with an attitude of "every man (and woman) for himself" which, in turn, will further segregate us as a nation at the very moment we need to unify.

     Where does it end? I was thrown in jail and put on trial for stopping a felony in progress, and the felon I detained was allowed, indeed encouraged, to continue driving without a license or insurance. Lisa Torti is prosecuted for trying to save a fellow motorist from a fiery death. This trend cannot be allowed to continue unabated, and I hope and pray that I'm not the only one who can see where it will eventually lead us. Lawsuits such as this one encourage people to simply turn their heads and ignore the plight of others. Is this what is to become of our American values?

     If the car had exploded and Torti had failed to act, would she now be facing a wrongful death lawsuit because she DIDN'T lend her assistance? I hope her attorney has the foresight to file a counter suit, because I suspect that the driver of Van Horn's car was uninsured. The article says Van Horn was a passenger in a car that slammed into a light pole. If Van Horn was pulled from the vehicle "like a rag doll," I would surmise that she was paralyzed by the collision, and not by Torti's compassionate efforts to save her life.

     If this is where we're headed, don't expect ANYONE to come forward with any information the next time someone's child is snatched from a mall somewhere. If you're being held up at gunpoint, you'll have no right to ask a witness to your plight to call the police for help. If you're carjacked at a stoplight, you might face criminal charges if you fail to tell your attacker to "Have a nice day" as he drives away with your car.

     This is a ridiculous exploitation of the law, and the California Supreme Court should be ashamed of itself.

     Jim
With a friend like her who needs enemies.
We don't know what really happened and I don't trust the press. Was she a "Good Samaritan" in the car behind her who stopped to help or a "friend?" A healthy woman is now paralyzed, which is very sad.   I'm sure the defense will hire a medical expert to determine whether or not the accident caused the paralysis.   I agree that it's unfortunate when a person is afraid to help another in case there is a lawsuit, but it's also important to use common sense. An untrained person should never move someone after an accident. If she didn't see flames or see a gas spill, she should have waited for the paramedics. Maybe she said she thought the car was going to explode after she found out she was being sued. We don't know that, do we? Sounds as if everyone is blaming the victim. Again, this is a very sad and tragic story for both involved.
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