Confronting a Known Risk: Imputing to plaintiff an agreement to accept full responsibility for defendant's fault.

Case: Parties: land) Procedural History: Trial judge gave summary judgment for defendants because Crews had assumed the risk, and the intermediate court affirmed. Now before Maryland's supreme court. Facts: Hollenbach working on excavating land and struck a gas line owned by gas company. Defendants did not notify anyone of this. A resident of the area smelled the gas, and notified the fire dept. Crews, an employee of the gas company, went to close the leak caused by def's striking the gas line. While doing this, plaintiff, an employee of the gas company, the gas ignited and an explosion occurred, severely injuring the plaintiff The cause of the spark was unknown, but no allegations were made that it was caused by the respondents. Crews sued Hollenbach and his employer for striking the gas line and causing the problem. Trial judge gave summary judgment for defendants because Crews had assumed the risk, and the intermediate court affirmed. Now before Maryland's supreme court. Issue: Whether an employee of a gas company, working to close off a gas leak which may cause great harm, and acting to safeguard others, assumed the risks associated with this work, when the gas leak was caused by a negligent party. Holding: Affirmed. Plaintiff assumed the risk. Crews v. Hollenbach Plaintiff (petitioners) - Crews (employee of gas company) Defendant (respondents) - Hollenbach (employee working on excavating

Reasoning: Court defines the assumption of risk as "an intentional and voluntary exposure to a known danger and, therefore, consent on the part of the plaintiff to relieve the defendant of an obligation of conduct toward him and to take his chances from harm from a particular risk." Court concluded that Crews, an employee of the gas company for 20 years, was very well aware of the dangers associated with this type of work, and that his actions striking a pip with a backhoe should have been apparent that it may cause a spark and ignite the gas. So, Crews knew the dangers but still acted. Crews argues that he was compelled to act, because otherwise there may have been serious harm to the people and property in the surrounding area, and not acting would not have been a reasonable choice. However, court says he was not forced to act, and also says he assumed the risk when he started working for the gas company. RULE: "an intentional and voluntary exposure to a known danger and, therefore, consent on the part of the plaintiff to relieve the defendant of an obligation of conduct toward him and to take his chances from harm from a particular risk." Notes Secondary Implied assumption of the risk where plaintiff has acted reasonably.