Does a shopkeeper have a duty to comply with an armed robber's demand that property be surrendered?

California, United States of America

The following excerpt is from Kentucky Fried Chicken of Cal., Inc. v. Superior Court, 14 Cal.4th 814, 59 Cal.Rptr.2d 756, 927 P.2d 1260 (Cal. 1997):

Plaintiff argues that when a patron is held hostage by an armed robber, a shopkeeper should have a duty to comply with the robber's demands in order to prevent possible injury to the patron. This obligation, she argues, is imposed by Civil Code section 1714, subdivision (a): "Every one is responsible, not only for the result of his willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his property or person...." Civil Code section 1714 states a civil law principle that is the foundation of our negligence law, whether developed under the statutory command or from the common law. (Rowland v. Christian, supra, 69 Cal.2d 108, 112, 70 Cal.Rptr. 97, 443 P.2d 561.) It has never been construed as imposing a duty to comply with an unlawful demand that property be surrendered, however.

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