Ipsen v. Diamond Tree Experts, IncAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court held that the professional rescuer rule that this Court adopted in Fordham v. Oldroyd, 171 P.3d 411 (Utah 2007), extends no further than Fordham's detailed formulation and that a person does owe a duty of care to a professional rescuer for injury that was sustained by the gross negligence or intentional tort that caused the rescuer's presence.
Plaintiff, a firefighter, was severely injured while responding to a mulch fire that occurred on Defendant's property. At the time of the fire, Defendant was in knowing violation of several ordinances, including the fire code, and of industry standards regarding the safe storage of mulch. Plaintiff sued Defendant for gross negligence, intentional harm, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that it owed no duty to Plaintiff under the professional rescuer rule. The district court agreed and dismissed Plaintiff's claim. The Supreme Court partially reversed the summary judgment order, holding (1) a person owes professional rescuers a duty of care when that person's gross negligence or intentional tort triggers the rescuers' presence; and (2) the case is remanded to the district court to rule whether Defendant's actions were grossly negligent, creating a duty to Plaintiff.