The Colorado Court of Appeals has released its decision in Garcia v. Colorado Cab Company, LLC, 2019COA3, reversing a lower court and holding that a would be passenger who suffered serious personal injuries while intervening in an assault of a cab driver by another passenger could not recover from the cab company.
The Court summarized the altercation as beginning when a passenger refused to pay a cab driver. The cab had no partition, and the passenger began assaulting the cab driver. Another would be passenger, Garcia, approached and told the attacker to leave the cab driver alone, and was also assaulted. The Court described the subsequent events as follows:
Garcia was hit from behind on the head. (He wasn’t sure who hit him.) Glinton (the attacker) got in the driver’s seat of the taxi and sped off. But before going too far, he abruptly turned around and drove toward Garcia and Yusuf (the cab driver), who were standing in a parking lot entry lane. Glinton swerved toward Garcia and Yusuf. Yusuf jumped out of the way, but Glinton hit Garcia with the taxi, ran him over, and dragged him down the street. Garcia’s injuries were extensive — they included shattered ear drums, a traumatic brain injury, a fractured eye socket, three broken ribs, a torn anterior cruciate ligament, other torn ligaments, and more injuries causing hip and back pain.
Garcia subsequently pursued a claim against the cab company, arguing that the cab company owed him a safe pickup location and that it was also liable under the “Rescue Doctrine”. A jury found in Garcia’s favor. However, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision, finding that the cab company did not owe Garcia a safe pickup location because he should have been able to see that the cab was already occupied (by the attacker), and so he was essentially not a prospective customer. The Court also found that the Rescue Doctrine – which allows a would be rescuer to recover for injuries caused by a third party’s negligence as to the party in peril – did not apply because Garcia attempted to intervene verbally, rather than physically.
While the situation faced by Garcia appears unusual, the Court’s decision could apply to individuals injured by passengers of not only cab companies, but also ride sharing services.
The decision is available in full at: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_of_Appeals/Opinion/2019/17CA1381-PD.pdf