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Citizen Citation


Michael Rustad

This "heroism" occurred in the Fall of 1984 when I pulled a 5 year old boy from a swimming pool. It was an unprecedented snowstorm (or at least I thought so at the time). After all, we were hit with two feet or more of snow in the Denver area in late September. The little boy fell through the ice of the swimming pool in the apartment complex where we lived when I was clerking for Judge William E. Doyle of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver.

I spotted what looked like a brown object from my balcony (8 or 9 floors down). It looked suspiciously like a person but I was not sure. I raced down the steps, jumped in the pool, and fortunately saved him before he drowned. He was weighed down by a heavy winter coat and not an expert swimmer.

The Fire Department officers nominated me for the award and I became a super hero for one evening, at least in my son's eyes. He was offered the opportunity to ride with the fire department which interested him a great deal!

I also testified in favor of a new ordinance requiring fences of a higher length around pools. I should remember to use this case (and perhaps modify the facts) when discussing whether there is a duty to rescue in these circumstances. The traditional Anglo-American rule is that there is no duty to rescue but I am from Minnesota where we always rescue. Best, Mike

20 years ago

Michael L. Rustad, was awarded the Citizen Citation for meritorious service Monday night by Lakewood Police Chief Charles Johnston. Rustad was given the Lakewood Department of Public Safety award for pulling a five year old boy from a swimming pool and saving the child's life.

Michael L. Rustad

Thomas F. Lambert Jr. Professor of Law

& Co-Director of Intellectual Property Law Program

Suffolk University Law School

Boston, Mass 02108-4977