Home health services' agency's contract created no duty; but Defendant voluntarily assumed one.
The Estate of Stephen Richard sued Compassionate Care Home Health Services, Inc., arguing that its employee negligently contributed to Stephen's death when the employee failed to respond after finding Stephen in a diabetic coma. The parties had executed a contract that called for CCHHS to provide "various in-home care services to clients with medical conditions." Defendant's "Purchased Services Agreement" and attendant documents required the Defendant to perform "simple household chores" and promised to "ensure that Plaintiff's decedent regularly monitored his blood sugar." It maintained "Daily Care Logs" documenting the monitoring of the decedent's blood sugar.
Nevertheless, when one of the company's workers found the decedent unresponsive to several requests to wake, and subsequently left the apartment "after several hours" without waking him, the Company argued that it owed no duty under the contract to monitor his diabetic condition. The family brought a wrongful death action which was summarily dismissed by the Alpena County trial judge. The Court of Appeals reversed. Even though it also concluded that under Michigan law the contract created no duty to the decedent, the three judges held that the company had voluntarily assumed the duty of monitoring the decedent's diabetes and could be held accountable if it failed to reasonably meet that duty.