England v. BrianasAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff Kenneth England appealed a Superior Court order that dismissed his negligence action against defendant Maria Brianas. For several months in 2009, defendant and Allen Bryson had an intimate relationship, which ended when Bryson moved out of state. After Bryson returned to New Hampshire in 2010, he contacted defendant several times, attempting to resume their relationship; he "became enraged" when she refused. Although the defendant told Bryson that she did not believe that they were "compatible," he nevertheless persisted in an abrasive and angry manner. Plaintiff and defendant met during the summer of 2008 and later began socializing and communicating through text messages. Defendant never told plaintiff about her relationship with Bryson or his behavior after he returned to New Hampshire. On February 13, 2010, while they were together at the Eagles Club, defendant invited plaintiff to spend the night at her house. Both were unaware that Bryson had broken into defendant's house through the basement and was waiting for her to return home. When plaintiff left defendant's living room to get a drink in the kitchen, Bryson stabbed him multiple times, causing serious injuries. Plaintiff argued that the trial court should have found that special circumstances existed that would support a finding of a legal duty owed to him by defendant and, therefore, should have denied defendant's motion to dismiss. Defendant countered that the trial court was correct in granting her motion to dismiss because plaintiff's writ of summons did not allege special circumstances or a special relationship sufficient to impose a duty to warn or protect plaintiff from Bryson's assault. "[C]lose friends, neighbors and extended family [would] find themselves at risk of civil liability for situations they did not create and over which they exercise no control." Because the Supreme Court concluded that defendant did not owe plaintiff a duty to warn him "that she had a potentially dangerous stalker who had been harassing her," the Court upheld the Superior Court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss.