Nieman v. Jacobs

In Nieman v. Jacobs, 87 Ariz. 44, 347 P.2d 702 (1959), a hotel elevator stopped about two feet below the lobby, and the operator could not raise it into place. The plaintiff was not injured by the movement of the elevator, however, but struck her head on the door frame while trying to climb out. 87 Ariz. at 46, 347 P.2d at 703. Her means of injury gave rise to a question whether the plaintiff's injury was caused by her own conduct. And at the time of Nieman, a plaintiff who sought to invoke res ipsa was obliged to establish that the accident was not due to any negligence on her part -- a requirement now abandoned since the advent of comparative fault. See supra n.6. Because the plaintiff could not establish that her injury was more likely attributable to the negligent operation or maintenance of the elevator than to her own fault, she was denied recourse to res ipsa loquitur. The Nieman court expressly distinguished falling elevator cases, however, stating that in such cases, "the question of causation generally is eliminated, . . . the sole consideration relates to proof of negligence," and, accordingly, courts "recognize the peculiar availability of the res ipsa loquitur rule." 87 Ariz. at 49, 347 P.2d at 705-06.