Fletcher v. City of Aberdeen – Case Brief
Fletcher v. City of Aberdeen, 54 Wash. 2d 174, 338 P.2d 743 (1959).
Facts: The City of Aberdeen (D) was conducting a construction project on a parking strip and had dug a hole. Barriers were erected to draw attention to the hole. Fletcher (P), a blind man, fell into the hole after a workman inadvertently forgot to put the barriers back in place. Fletcher sued Aberdeen for his injuries. D alleged that reasonable care was taken and that the City was not responsible for extra care for blind pedestrians. At trial the jury found in favor of P and D appealed.
Issue: What is the standard of care imposed on the city for negligence and on a person with disabilities?
Holding and Rule: A city is obliged to afford the degree of protection which would give notice to a disabled person. A person with a physical disability is obliged to use the care which a reasonable person with the same or similar circumstance would use.
The city knows that the streets are used by people with disabilities and should use the standard of care necessary to ensure the safety of everyone. P took appropriate care by using his cane but D did not use proper care because it did not keep the barriers in place.
Disposition: Affirmed – judgment for P.
Notes: Imposing liability on the City is the more efficient rule. The City is the least cost avoider – to prevent these sorts of accidents it need only to keep the barriers in place.