The California Supreme Court, in Hubbard v. Boelt, extended the reach of the fireman's rule to bar a suit brought by a policeman who was injured by the willful and wanton conduct of a speeding motor is while pursuing that motorist. This is an important development in tort law because, traditionally, the fireman's rule had only been applied to bar suits by firemen and policemen who were injured by the negligent conduct of another which was the cause of their presence at the scene. This author suggests that the majority's rationale underlying this extension was flawed because of the fundamental difference between negligent conduct and willful and wanton conduct. Even if the majority's logic was correct the rule should not have been applied in this case. Two of the reasons for this, which the dissent pointed out are the two independent acts of misconduct by the defendant, one negligent and one willful and wanton, and that the policeman seemed to be a member of a statutorily protected class. Finally, the author looks to other jurisdictions and finds that the fireman's rule has never been applied in cases where a policeman is injured while pursuing a speeding motorist. Instead, the cases had always been decided on the general principles of negligence.
Marty K. Deniston
Hubbard v. Boelt: The Fireman's Rule Extended ,
9 Pepp. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/plr/vol9/iss1/7