Medcalf v. Washington Heights Condominium Ass’n Inc.
57 Conn. App. 12, 747 A.2d 532 (2000)

  • Medcalf and a friend were going to visit Skiades who live in the Washington Heights building. Skiades was unable to buzz Medcalf into the front door because the buzzer was not working. While waiting outside, Medcalf was attacked by a creep and injured.
  • Medcalf sued Washington Heights for negligence.
    • Medcalf argued that if the intercom system had been working properly, she would not have been outside and not have been attacked.
  • The Trial Court found for Medcalf. Washington Heights appealed.
  • The Appellate Court reversed and gave a directed verdict to Washington Heights.
    • In order to hold someone liable for negligence, you have to establish that their actions (or inactions) were a proximate cause of the injury.
      • Proximate Cause means that there has to be a reasonable and direct connection between the negligent act and the injury.
        • Also known as scope of the risk, or scope of liability.
      • Restatement of Torts says that, “an actor is not liable for harm different from the harms whose risks made the actor’s conduct tortuous.”
    • The Appellate Court found that Medcalf’s injury was not of the same general nature as the foreseeable risk created by Washington Height’s negligence.
      • Washington Heights could not have reasonably foreseen that an assault would be the result of not fixing the intercom.
      • If, for example, there was a disabled person in an apartment who needed a doctor and the doctor couldn’t get in because the door wouldn’t open, then you might have a much better case where Washington Heights’ negligence was a proximate cause of injury.