Risk Management

Read Espinoza v. Schulenburg, CV-05-0158-PR, Arizona Supreme Court, 2006.

Espinoza was an off-duty firefighter and emergency medical technician who was injured while providing roadside assistance to the Schulenburgs. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Schulenburgs, holding that the firefighter’s rule bars Espinoza’s claim. The court of appeals reversed that decision, holding that the firefighter’s rule should be narrowly construed so as not to bar the claims of off duty firefighters.

However, the appeals court remanded for determination of whether Espinoza had a duty as part of her job as a firefighter to render assistance, in which case the court would apparently conclude that the rule should apply to bar her suit. On appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, a more conclusive decision was handed down. That Court made the clear distinction between on-duty and off duty, finding that Espinoza volunteered to render aid and, therefore, the fireman’s rule did not apply. Discuss how the Arizona Supreme Court distinguished between on-duty and off duty. Do you agree with this distinction? Can you suggest other distinguishing factors that should have been considered? Should the fact that one receives workers’ compensation for the injury enter into the distinction? Describe how your department addresses rendering aid off duty. Is it part of your “duty’ as a firefighter, or is it more so an ethical duty? Also, describe how your department addresses off duty injuries incurred as a result of rendering aid.

 

 

 

Sample Solution

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