One Who 'Undertakes' to Act Even When Under No Obligation to Do So Must Act With Reasonable Care
In Union Park Memorial Chapel v. Hutt, 670 So. 2d 64 (Fla. 1996), the court held that "a funeral director who voluntarily undertakes to organize and lead a funeral procession owes a duty of reasonable care to procession participants." Id. at 65.
The court found that duty in section 324A of the Restatement, on which the majority today also relies.
Simply stated, the Restatement provides that one who "undertakes" to act, even when under no obligation to do so, must act with reasonable care. Id. at 66-67.
In Case of In Union Park, the funeral director had organized a funeral procession.
The plaintiff was injured when, as part of that procession, she drove through a red light. Id. at 65.
The court explained that in joining a funeral procession, participants are likely to rely to some degree on the director for their safety. Id. at 67.
In other words, because the funeral director had organized a funeral procession, participants felt free to drive through red lights, confident in their continued safety.
Absent a funeral procession, the participants would have stopped at red lights, as the law required.
Therefore, the procession placed them in a more precarious position then they otherwise would have found themselves in, and the funeral director had a duty to exercise reasonable care for their safety.
Union Park relied on McCain v. Florida Power Corp., 593 So. 2d 500, 503 (Fla. 1992), which held that "where a defendant's conduct creates a foreseeable zone of risk, the law generally will recognize a duty placed upon defendant either to lessen the risk or see that sufficient precautions are taken to protect others from the harm that the risk poses."