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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 2002, while walking in a field off of a roadway, John Finley was hit and killed by a pick-up truck that had been stolen from a U-Haul dealership. Although the keys to the truck had been noted missing a few days earlier, the manner in which the theft took place was never determined, and no one involved in either the theft or driving the truck when it hit Finley was ever identified. Allene Finley, administratrix of the estate of John Finley, filed suit against U-Haul, alleging that it had been negligent in failing to adequately secure the truck and the keys to it. U-Haul filed a traditional motion for summary judgment, arguing, among other things, that the element of duty was negated by the lack of foreseeability as a matter of law. The trial court granted U-Haul a summary judgment against all of Finley’s claims. HOLDING:Affirmed. To prevail on a claim for negligence, a party must establish, among other things, the existence of a duty, which is a question of law and a threshold issue, such that liability cannot be imposed if duty does not exist. Of the factors relevant to determining whether a duty exists, the foreseeability of the risk is the foremost and dominant consideration. Foreseeability requires only that the general danger, and not the exact sequence of events that produced the harm, be foreseeable. However, along with the general danger, it must also be foreseeable that the particular plaintiff, or someone similarly situated, would be harmed by that danger. As applied to the criminal act of a third-party, this requires courts to determine if the general danger of the criminal act was foreseeable and then whether it was foreseeable that the injured party, or one similarly situated, would be the victim of that criminal act. Because no information exists as to how or by whom the truck was stolen, and, thus, what act or omission by U-Haul, if any, could have enabled it to occur or prevented it from occurring, it cannot be determined or inferred whether the theft of the truck was a result at all, let alone a reasonably foreseeable result, of any such unknown conduct. In addition, nothing in the summary judgment record suggests that U-Haul could have reasonably foreseen that its truck would be used to hit someone walking in a field in any event. Therefore, even if a general danger of a criminal act was foreseeable, and even if any conduct by U-Haul could have created a risk of harm, U-Haul owed no legal duty to Finley, because he was not so situated with relation to the wrongful act that his injury and death might have been foreseen. OPINION:Edelman, J.; Fowler, Frost and Edelman, J.J.

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