Grable v. Varela

In Grable v. Varela, 115 Ariz. 222, 564 P.2d 911 (App. 1977), a child started a fire that spread to an unoccupied residence. Id. at 223, 564 P.2d at 912. A firefighter who was injured trying to extinguish the fire sued the child and his parents. Id. at 222-23, 564 P.2d at 911-12. The superior court granted summary judgment to the defendants based on the firefighter's rule. Id. at 223, 564 P.2d at 912. On appeal, the Court described the rule generally as prohibiting an injured firefighter from suing persons whose only connection with the injury was their negligent conduct in creating the fire. Id. The Court also explained the public policy behind the rule: It is the fireman's business to deal with that very hazard and hence . . . he cannot complain of negligence in the creation of the very occasion for his engagement. In terms of duty, it may be said that there is none owed the fireman to exercise care so as not to require the special services for which he is trained and paid. Probably most fires are attributable to negligence, and in the final analysis the policy decision is that it would be too burdensome to charge all who carelessly cause or fail to prevent fires with the injuries suffered by the expert retained with public funds to deal with those inevitable, although negligently created, occurrences. Applying the firefighter's rule, we concluded that the injured firefighter's claims were barred because a firefighter "has no cause of action against one whose negligence caused the fire in which he was injured." Id.