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NH Supreme Court Limits Scope of Fireman’s Rule

The New Hampshire Supreme Court released a decision yesterday on a case brought by a firefighter who was injured in 2008 at the scene of a fire against the owner of the property.

On January 29, 2008, Epping firefighter Jason Antosz responded to a fire at Doree Allain’s house. The fire was in a water heater and while retrieving a fire extinguisher, Antosz slipped on accumulated ice and snow in Allain’s driveway and was injured

Antosz sued Allain claiming she was negligent in the maintenance of her premises. Allain sought to have the case decided in her favor as a matter of law based on the Fireman’s rule. The trial court agreed with Allain, prompting Antosz to appeal.

NH is one of the states where the Fireman’s Rule has been enacted into law. It reads as follows.

RSA 507:8-h  Firefighters . . . shall have no cause of action for injuries arising from negligent conduct which created the particular occasion for the [firefighter’s] official engagement. However, this section does not affect such [firefighter’s] causes of action for unrelated negligent conduct occurring during the [firefighter’s] official engagement, or for other negligent conduct . . .

In reversing the trial court, the NH Supreme Court ruled that Allain’s alleged negligence did not “create the particular occasion for the [firefighter’s] official engagement”. On the contrary the court ruled that her failure to clear her driveway was more in the nature of “unrelated negligent conduct” under the statute.

The case has been sent back to the trial court for further proceedings and possible trial.

Here is a copy of the decision. Antosz v. Allain NH

Incidentally, take a look at more on Jason Antosz 

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