303 N.E. 2d 226 (Ill. App. 1973).

Plaintiff was a customer who had just entered Defendant’s clothing store when the store manager pointed towards him and shouted, “Stop, thief!” Plaintiff observed a man running towards him. Plaintiff tackled the shoplifter and, in the process, injured his shoulder.

Plaintiff sued Defendant store for his injuries.

In its defense, Defendant argued that it did not owe Plaintiff duty because he had voluntarily decided to tackle the shoplifter.  The court disagreed and held that Plaintiff was not a volunteer as a matter of law since the manager’s cry was a general call for help which appeared to Plaintiff to be directed to him and since Plaintiff’s purpose in attempting to restrain the shoplifter was to benefit the store.

On the issue of whether the Defendant store had breached its duty to care to its customers, the court concluded that Defendant had breached the duty since there was evidence that the store had actual knowledge through its sales staff that the shoplifter who caused the injury had three days previously attempted to steal clothing from the same store. The court reasoned that with the knowledge of his prior crime the store became charged with the responsibility to protect its customers from other illegal acts by the shoplifter.

The court concluded that the store’s negligence was the proximate cause of Plaintiff’s injuries.

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