While driving to work, IADC member David Zizik’s client was blinded by severe sun glare, causing him to rear-end the vehicle ahead of him. Plaintiff, a police officer, was working an off-duty detail nearby. David’s client summoned the Plaintiff for assistance. As a result of the sun glare, a third vehicle came upon the scene and rear-ended the client’s vehicle, which pushed it forward into the first vehicle, trapping Plaintiff between them, causing serious injuries to both of Plaintiff’s legs. Plaintiff sued numerous parties for negligence, including David’s client, who plaintiff claimed owed him a duty to warn against the “unknown danger” of the sun glare. David obtained summary judgment for his client based upon the “public-safety officer’s rule,” which bars public safety officers from suing citizens who summon them to the scene of an emergency, even when the citizen’s negligence may cause the officer to sustain injury. All of the other parties settled with the plaintiff for amounts in excess of six figures. Plaintiff appealed the summary judgment award to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, which after oral argument affirmed the summary judgment award and upheld the dismissal of the claims against David’s client.
Kris Ellinwood et al. v. Scott B. Cohen et al. No. 2013–125–Appeal. -- March 28, 2014.