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Indiana Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Manges Law Firm Client


Fireman in the dark

The Indiana Supreme Court just ruled in favor of Manges Law Firm client Richard Dolsen, a third generation Fort Wayne firefighter who was seriously injured when he fell into an open pit inside a pitch dark building rented downtown by Veoride when he was responding to fire there. 


Veoride knew about the pit, but failed to fix it or warn the fire department about it. In most cases, a firefighter cannot make a claim for injuries caused by something he normally expects to face, like the fire itself.  This has been called the “Fireman’s Rule”, something recognized in Indiana for over 100 years. The Rule was created so people wouldn’t be worried about getting sued by a fireman who comes to their home or business. But the Rule has exceptions.


A firefighter can still sue for negligence when the hazard is separate from why he came to the scene. In Dolsen’s case, the Court found that the danger (the pit) was separate from the fire.  This new opinion is important because it clearly spells out when the Rule applies and when it doesn’t.  That makes it fair to firefighters (and other emergency responders, like police officers and EMT’s) when they are hurt for reasons totally outside of what they agreed to face when they took the job. It is also fair to members of public, so long as they do nothing to increase the harm emergency workers expect the face. Dolsen will now have his day in court.

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