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December 19, 2008

California Court Okays Suing Good Samaritans

No good deed goes unpunished — not when trial lawyers can use them as a pretext to sue:

The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a young woman who pulled a co-worker from a crashed vehicle isn't immune from civil liability because the care she rendered wasn't medical.
The divided high court appeared to signal that rescue efforts are the responsibility of trained professionals. It was also thought to be the first ruling by the court that someone who intervened in an accident in good faith could be sued.

Next time you see someone unconscious in a crashed vehicle that might go up in flames, run away quick before you're seen. If you rescue them, they'll sue you. If you leave them to die, their estate will sue you.

What a wonderful world to be a lawyer in.

On a tip from Richard C.

Posted by Van Helsing at December 19, 2008 8:48 AM


Best solution: feign a faint. But be prepared for anti-swooning legislation.

Posted by: Wynne at December 19, 2008 9:39 AM

In some states it is illegal to not offer assistance to someone in need if you are able to do so. SO now the state can try you if you don't, and some slimebag lawyer can sue you if you do. Great.

Posted by: CoderInCrisis at December 19, 2008 10:29 AM

Or, alternatively, don't panic because you think someone's car is "about to explode" like you've seen in the movies, but which cars actually never do; don't act without skill or knowledge and clumsily injure the person you're trying to help; don't drop the person you've just paralyzed on the ground right next to their damaged car and then claim you had to do it because the car was going to explode; and don't perform stupid and harmful actions while drunk and then play the martyr when the person you paralyze complains about it. Do use "reasonable care", and don't make things worse through bad judgment and lack of ability to actually help. In short, follow the normal standard of care that, as the article you quote points out, has been part of "Good Samaritan" doctrine for centuries, and take responsibility for your actions.

If you can't meet even the most minimal standard of care, judgment, and skill that is legally applicable to a totally untrained person with normal mental maturity, then maybe you should face a lawyer. Or is the idea of due process for people who've been harmed just so anathema to wingnuts that you prefer drunken bumbling instead?

Posted by: Kevin T. Keith at December 19, 2008 10:36 AM


what do you drive so if I run across you overturned and screaming for someone to help I will be able to recall your words of advice.

Posted by: IOpian at December 19, 2008 11:11 AM

Kevin, spoken like a true lawyer.

If this society actually took responsibility for it's actions, things like this wouldn't be an issue. Everyone (but you it seems) knows that these kinds of lawsuits are people seeing a jackpot or payday when injured.

Predatory lawyers encourage this litigious behavior to the detriment of all concerned. You're incredibly heartless "maybe you SHOULD face a lawyer" is typical. If they help, sue 'em. If they DON'T help, sue 'em. In ANY case, sue everyone and who knows? Maybe someone will settle or something will stick. Worth ruining a few lives if it means an un-earned payday.

The contempt I feel for people who use the law as a weapon is greater than that I feel for a pimp.

Posted by: matt at December 19, 2008 11:11 AM

Where do we start the process of kicking California out of our great country, once and for all?

Posted by: Eric at December 19, 2008 11:15 AM


I think their immigration policy is taking care of that.

Posted by: IOpian at December 19, 2008 11:17 AM

Wasn't there a famous comedian and his friends who were sentenced to prison in Latham, MA a while back for failing to come to the aid of a fellow citizen?

Posted by: Anonymous at December 19, 2008 11:29 AM

I know that it is a law when boating, that you are required by law to aid a distressed vessel. I think this legal issue has been a catch-22 for many years. We discussed it in bizlaw class.

Thanks for visiting us, Kevin. I saw your blog. It seems to me that, like gay people who won't be happy until we've all converted, that you won't be happy until every baby is aborted. Anyway, it must be lonely over there, because you say:

"I don’t know why y’all don’t comment more. I’ve been telling myself that it’s because my posts are so thorough and comprehensive that there is just nothing more to say on any of the issues..."

Posted by: Karin at December 19, 2008 11:37 AM

I think that Kevin is right on some parts. If you drive drunk, crash your car, act like a matry and drop the person you just saved next to the car that is about to explode, you deserve to be sued.
Although, they did the right thing.

Posted by: Big_Daddy at December 19, 2008 12:14 PM

Wasn't there a famous comedian and his friends who were sentenced to prison in Latham, MA a while back for failing to come to the aid of a fellow citizen?

No. You're thinking of a Seinfeld episode.

Posted by: Kristy at December 19, 2008 12:33 PM

Law or no law, in my part of Texas when someone is hurt or there's a car crash, people come running to help. Thank God, there's no state composed solely of California jurists, they'd never survive.

Posted by: Texas Pete at December 19, 2008 1:04 PM

Wholly crap! Some of these people are not going to be satisfied until we're each issued a prison cell at birth, and confined so that we can't harm ourselves or others. We'll have to work out how we're to be fed etc., but by [deity of your choice] we'll be SAFE! Unless there's some defect in the cell which allows us to get a finger pinched or something so we can sue... whom exactly? They're all locked in cells and have nothing of value. Oh, this is going to require a lot more working out...

Posted by: Mr Evilwrench at December 19, 2008 1:14 PM

It's not a comforting decision, but nor is it really that bad: it was made in suppressing a motion made by the defense, and actually allows arguing the point during trial of whether the defendant was rendering "medical" assistance - the applicable law is both a bit murky and slightly silly, as will now be open to both judge and jury to hear.

A much worse one is this -
*Company says smoke that killed 3 was 'pollution'*
If this company succeeds, then the person who set the fire should have at least three of her four homicide convictions set aside as well...

Posted by: teqjack at December 19, 2008 1:44 PM

California license plate frame that proclaims "I will not sue". Great for the few remaining decent folks in California who's desire to live outweighs the desire to sue.

Posted by: Unscrupulous at December 19, 2008 1:49 PM

Look at what jdges MOE,LARRY and CURLY have given us here in KALIFORNIA the vultures and sharks are comming to the golden state becuase their smelling blood

Posted by: Spurwing Plover at December 19, 2008 3:00 PM

Remember when they elderly black fella up north (I think in NY) got run over by a car and laid dying in the street while people walked by? Nobody helped him. Expect more of this to happen now that we know we can be sued for helping accident victims.

Posted by: Kristy at December 19, 2008 3:29 PM

Good luck Kevin if you ever need help

Posted by: Watching at December 19, 2008 5:16 PM

No surprise ! Good samaritan sued! The result was to be predicted in a state where The Trial Lawyers Criminal Extortionists Protection League (aka as the democrats) has controlled the state legislature for fifty years thanks to gerrymandering and only three governors in the last 68 years have not been lawyers.
Voters in any state stupid enough to hand your governments over to lawyers best get used to the legal bilge that flows out of California at home!Keep in mind that Texas is a state from which trail lawyers love to launch class action suits since its laws are so lawsuit friendly.

Posted by: wanderer at December 19, 2008 7:52 PM

Kal-ee-four-nyah (as Ahnold says) -- leading the way for Moonbats everywhere. As noted above, soon to be the new Mexican province of Aztlan, which translates to "Hell on Earth."


Posted by: jc14 at December 19, 2008 9:11 PM

Posted by: matt at December 19, 2008 11:11 AM
Posted by: Mr Evilwrench at December 19, 2008 1:14 PM

Well done...

Posted by: Mike at December 19, 2008 10:10 PM


Posted by: Spurwing Plover at December 19, 2008 10:14 PM

Things like this make me want to start heating up a nice big kettle of tar...

Posted by: scaramouche at December 20, 2008 1:47 AM

Somebody needs to come up with a strain of AIDS that only attacks lawyers... only more virulent and faster-acting.

Posted by: V the K at December 20, 2008 5:16 AM

Contra Kevin, the court's ruling clearly violates the plain letter of the law:

In 1980, the Legislature enacted the Health and Safety Code, which provides that "no person who in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency care at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission."

The law is clearly not written to apply only to emergency response workers.

Posted by: V the K at December 20, 2008 5:21 AM

A lefty lawyer. Wonderful combo. Now, you only need to be a pedo to get the trifecta of terrible!

Posted by: Kevin can SUCK IT at December 20, 2008 5:29 AM

"Somebody needs to come up with a strain of AIDS that only attacks lawyers... only more virulent and faster-acting."

Thanks for wishing death upon my wife.

Sure, everyone hates lawyers... until they need one.

Lawyer bigots.

Posted by: Henry at December 20, 2008 8:30 AM

Dont expect me to supply the feathers its not my moulting season

Posted by: Spurwing Plover at December 20, 2008 9:09 AM

Here's what gets me: the defendant probably doesn't have a lot of money; both she and the planintiff worked together at a department store cosmetics counter. How much money will she ever make to pay for damages? I suspect this is a "test case" to open the door to suits against better-insured helpful bystanders.

Posted by: PabloD at December 20, 2008 9:34 AM

Even when I need a lawyer, I still hate them.

Posted by: Frank White at December 20, 2008 9:38 AM

Almost true, Henry. No one likes dealing with lawyers ever, especially when you "need" them. Then, your lawyer is a god-send... but in cases like this one, you wouldn't "need" an attorney if there wasn't another attorney on the other side of the isle trying to bleed you & anyone else with a wallet dry.

Criminal defense attorneys are a necessary evil. If totally guilty scumbags didn't have legal defense, there'd be no incentive for the prosecution and police to play "by the book", and we'd soon be living in the kind of police-state that moonbats believe Bush has already created (which will magically vaporize on January 20th, naturally).

Tort lawyers, however, are a drain on society as a whole. Sometimes necessary, usually not... but I don't really blame them. They're just filling a niche created by the bad tort law that they're exploiting for material gain.

I don't really think we need to kill all the lawyers (well, not all of 'em). What we DO need is some serious tort reform.

Posted by: hiram at December 20, 2008 10:53 AM

Hiram, agreed.

My complaint derives from the broad strokes that get applied to all lawyers. Wishing death upon all lawyers is the same thing moonbats do to anyone not aligned with their thinking.

The problem really lies with the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality of the media. They sensationalize the miniscule fraction of cases like this one, so that's too many people's impression of the entire legal profession.

You ever read a story that headlines, "Planning Attorney Creates Air-Tight Trust, Avoiding 'Death Tax' Theft of Client's Estate; Client's Heirs Jubilant"?

BTW, if anyone in CA needs an iron-clad estate plan, contact me...

Posted by: Henry at December 20, 2008 11:24 AM


You need to get your wife one of these. so she can identify herself when the time comes.

Posted by: Random Numbers at December 20, 2008 12:41 PM

I can only hope that the four nitwit judges on the California Supreme Court that voted in favor of this ruling never find themselves in the same circumstances that Ms. Van Horn did.

Posted by: Robert at December 20, 2008 4:01 PM

Do you know what it's called when 500 lawyers jump off the Golden Gate?

A Good Start

Posted by: PeterGunn at December 20, 2008 8:14 PM

I found Hiram comments defending lawyers to be useful in demonstrating how lawyers park their morality at their banks. No one would be honest except for lawyers? Really. Unfortunately one observes that lawyers honesty ranks somewhere below used car salesmen, insurance agents, politicans and journalists. But hey they rank above judges.

The only reson lawyers exist is they create situations that render commonsense and goodwill useless as bargaining tools. What to see rampant hatred and blind greed, get a lawyer involved in a divorce proceeding.

Find a nation without lawyers and I'll show you progress, happiness, and contentment. Show me a nation that has as many lawyers as the US and well you get California. So if you have a child of questionable character, weak morales, and is adverse to honest work, and incapable of independent judgement send him to law school. That is if the mafia rejects him for lack of moral fiber. At least he can sue some innocent.

Posted by: Thomas Jackson at December 21, 2008 2:05 AM

The only reson lawyers exist is they create situations that render commonsense and goodwill useless as bargaining tools.

Hear! Hear!

Posted by: V the K at December 21, 2008 5:35 AM

Q.Why do sharks and vutures dislike lawyers? A. They dont like the competition Q.Whats the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? A.One is a slimey bottom dwelling muck sucker the other is a fish

Posted by: Spurwing Plover at December 21, 2008 2:08 PM

In principle, we need fewer lawyers, less legalistic thinking, less constant fear of getting sued. But this particular case isn't the perfect example of that that a lot of bloggers seem to think. Was it THAT long ago that it was common knowledge that you don't move a seriously injured person unless you absolutely have to, or you're a paramedic or something? And why do people keep saying we're talking about a car that "might explode"? Did anyone have reason to suspect that there was a bomb in it?

Posted by: Dave M at December 21, 2008 5:29 PM

^^ Dave M: Perhaps if health education class in high school consisted of some basic first-aid training those things might still be common knowledge.

I am sure if Ms. Torti was faced with an emergency situation in which a condom needed to be applied to a cucumber post-haste that the education system would have ensured she had all the appropriate skills.

Posted by: Kevin T. Keith at December 19, 2008 10:36 AM

You're right Kevin, the defendant is completely at fault for being intoxicated after going out with the plaintiff and "three other co-workers ... to a bar on Halloween for a night of drinking and dancing, departing in two cars at 1:30 a.m."

It is not at all the plaintiff's responsibility to decide to take a taxi home. She deserves the be able to potentially destroy her former friend's life via litigation.

Posted by: mandible claw at December 21, 2008 11:09 PM

The court's ruling will be generalized... it is their intent for it to be... Soon, if one gives a homeless person a dollar, and they buy booze with it, and get drunk, and stumble in front of a car, the person who was generous will get sued...

The government is most threatened by a society of people who care about each other, help each other and are at peace with one another. This is why the government foments racial hatred, creates imaginary class warfare, developed the nanny state, give special privileges to attorneys, encourages lawsuits, and works to slowly erode the Constitution.

There is a great deal of money going from trial lawyers to the corrupt government officials (of both parties). It is about greed, power, hatred of humanity, and a will to destroy all that is good in our society for their personal gain.

As for Kalifornia, I have not visited in years, and won't. No tourist money from the fruits of my hard labor... but unfortunately, now, we will be taxed to take care of their idiotic lifestyles.

I will remember never to stop and help anyone from Kalifornia visiting my home state. Since I will never visit that third world country, this silly new legal ruling will not apply to me.

PS, don't ask for any help after the big earthquake. I wouldn't want to be sued for helping.

Posted by: Kristin at December 22, 2008 4:37 AM