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Cliff-Diving Prank Gives Girlfriend Grounds to Sue

(CN) - A Florida doctor is facing a negligence lawsuit for allegedly tricking his girlfriend into jumping off a cliff.

Randi Borrack was on vacation with her boyfriend, Dr. Charles Reed, in West Virginia. Reed led her to the top of a cliff overlooking a lake.

Borrack said she was not comfortable with the climb and that she was afraid to climb down alone. Reed replied that he wanted to share the view with her - the same view he used to share with his deceased brother.

Borrack was too afraid to look over the cliff, and when she turned away, Reed dove into the water.

Not finding Reed with her, Borrack called down to Reed's nephew, who was in the water below. The nephew said he didn't know where Reed was and that Borrack should dive in to help him.

She dove off the cliff and was severely hurt when she landed.

Borrack sued Reed for negligence, and the trial court agreed with Reed that he did not create a "zone of risk," and that trickery does not rise to the level of negligence.

Last week, Florida's fourth appellate district court in the West Palm Beach reversed the decision.

"[The] allegations, if true, would constitute evidence that the defendant actively 'forced' the plaintiff to climb to the top of the cliff and then 'pressured' or 'coerced' the plaintiff into jumping off the cliff to save a loved one," Judge Jonathan Gerber wrote for the court.

"Thus, on these allegations, we recognize a legal duty on the defendant for negligently creating a dangerous situation," he added.

Judge Melanie May wrote a concurring opinion in which he noted the legal paradox created by it.

"The plaintiff specifically alleged 'trickery,' - an intentional act - but wrapped it in a cloak of negligence allegations," she wrote.

The appeals court remanded the case for trial.

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