GARRY M BLUHM V PATRICK J WALSTONAnnotate this Case
STATE OF MICHIGAN
COURT OF APPEALS
GARRY M. BLUHM,
May 29, 1998
Oakland Circuit Court
LC No. 96-521685 NO
PATRICK J. WALSTON and LAURA L.
Before: Neff, P.J., and O’Connell and Young, Jr., JJ.
This is a personal injury case based on a theory of premises liability. Plaintiff appeals as of right
from the trial court’s order granting summary disposition to defendants in reliance on the volunteer
doctrine. We reverse and remand for trial.
The facts of this case are strikingly similar to those of Hawkins v Ryder Truck Rental, Inc, ___
Mich App ___, ___ NW2d ___ (Docket No. 199136, issued 3/6/98). At oral argument, counsel for
plaintiff and defendants agreed that Hawkins controls this case and requires reversal of the order for
At the request of defendant Patrick Walston, plaintiff agreed to help Walston and others raise a
wall in defendants’ home. The wall, approximately thirty feet long and complete with paneling, siding
and part of the roof, slipped during the effort to lift it into place, injuring plaintiff. Plaintiff sued, claiming
status as an invitee and asserting liability for the alleged ordinary negligence of defendants. Defendants
claimed that plaintiff was a volunteer and that their only duty to him was to refrain from willful or wanton
acts that might injure him. The trial court agreed with defendants’ position on the issue of duty and
found that plaintiff’s claims of ordinary negligence could not sustain his cause of action.
In Hawkins, this Court dealt with the precise issue raised here on facts that make it
indistinguishable from this case. The Court held that under Michigan law the volunteer doctrine serves
to limit liability only in the context of claims based on respondeat superior, where a master is not liable
for the ordinary negligence of his servant who has injured a third person having the
status of a volunteer. Id., slip op p 2, citing Diefenbach v Great A & P Tea Co, 280 Mich 507, 512
513; 273 NW2d 583 (1937). The Court refused to extend the reach of the volunteer doctrine to
immunize negligent actors from their own tortious conduct.
We agree with the reasoning and result reached by the majority in Hawkins and on its authority
reverse and remand this case for trial. 1 We do not retain jurisdiction.
/s/ Janet T. Neff
/s/ Peter D. O’Connell
In determining that plaintiff was a volunteer, the trial court expressly rejected plaintiff’s argument that
he was an invitee. This was error. Because plaintiff was on defendant’s premises for the purpose of
performing a service beneficial to defendant, he is to be accorded the status of an invitee. Hottmann v
Hottmann, 226 Mich App 171, 175; 572 NW2d 259, 261 (1997).