Ryals v.

United States Steel Corporation FACTS: The plaintiff and the decedent trespass on the defendant’s land for the purpose of stripping out copper, brass, and other salvageable metal. Upon arriving on the lots, they noticed the base of the structure to be partially stripped; found a rusty metal warning sign, detached metals lying on the ground, dangling wires, garbage in and around the fenced area and wild vegetation growing around the fence; and they found the gate leading to the switch rack to be wide open. The decedent, one of the trespasser contacted with a 44,000 volt copper line; he suffered a third degree burns over 95% of his body and died several days later. The plaintiff initially filed a negligence claim against the defendant for decedent’s death by negligently and wantonly failing to secure the switch rack. The plaintiff later withdrew the complaint and the trial court entered summary judgment for the defendant on the wantonness claim. The plaintiff appealed the summary judgment. ISSUE: Whether the defendant owes a duty to trespassers who wrongfully entered his land for the purpose of committing a crime. RULE: A landowner owes a duty to trespassers who wrongfully comes into his land not to intentionally, recklessly or wantonly injure them and the court define wanton as conscious act or omission of some duty under the knowledge of the existing conditions and conscious that from the omission of such duty injury will likely or probably result.

APPLICATION: Here, the defendant did not intentionally, recklessly or wantonly injure the plaintiff even though the plaintiff wrongfully trespassed on his land for the purpose of committing a crime. Whether the switch rack was wantonly left open is contested by the fact that the switch rack was surrounded by a chain link fenced topped with barbed wire, and one sign warning of electrical danger. Given the intention of the plaintiff, they would have disregarded the any obvious danger presented on the site. Public Policy justification.

CONCLUSION: Therefore, the defendant did not intentionally breach its duty to the trespassers, who at the time was on the defendant’s site to commit a crime.

Merrill v. Central Maine Power Company

FACTS: The plaintiff, a nine years old girl entered the defendant’s land to fish from the pond located in the defendant’s lot. After catching an eel in the river decided to walk to the defendant’s electrical sub-station, climbed the fence and placed the eel on a live wire. The plaintiff was shocked and suffered severe burns. The plaintiff brought a cause of action under the attractive nuisance doctrine against the defendant. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, finding that: (1) the plaintiff appreciated the risk (2) electrical sub-station as a matter of law is not attractive nuisance. Plaintiff appealed. ISSUE: Whether the defendant’s electrical sub-station is an attractive nuisance that should have been reasonably foreseen by the defendant as an unreasonable risk of harm to trespassers in this case a child trying to cooked her eel on a live wire and whether the child appreciated the risk at the time of the accident RULE: To determine whether an artificial condition is an attractive nuisance capable of causing physical harm to children trespassing on the land, the courts look at Restatement of Torts §399: Conditions of an attractive nuisance: a. Possessor has reason to know that children likely to trespass; b. Possessor knows condition will involve an unreasonable risk to kids; c. Children do not realize the risk involved; d. Utility of maintaining the condition and burden of eliminating the danger are slight e. Possessor fails to exercise reasonable care to eliminate danger. APPLICATION: Here, the plaintiff’s injuries not caused by an attractive nuisance b/c live wire are not recognizable attractive nuisances. Had the defendant create an attractive nuisance on his property, he must exercise a higher duty of care in securing the A.N. Also the other prong asks whether the child appreciate the risk of the harm at the time of the accident. In this case, the plaintiff stated that he knew the purpose of the fence surrounding the sub-station was to keep people out (2) that electricity could burn and hurt him; (3) that he was careful not to touch the wire himself; and (4) that what he did was a dumb idea. All this factual testimonies lead to a conclusion as to the plaintiff’s appreciation of the risk at the time of the accident. CONCLUSION: Therefore, the summary judgment should be granted in light of the finding that the plaintiff appreciated the risk posed by the electrical sub-station.

North Hardin Developers, Inc v. Corkran FACTS: The defendant owned a 27 acre farm located in a semi rural area adjoined by two subdivisions. A few lots in the subdivision are adjacent to the farm which was enclosed with a

barb wire fence. A large number of children are known to live within the vicinity of the farm and it known to the owner of the land that children tend to trespass on the farm, even though notices were posted warning trespassers. The plaintiff climbed through the barb wire surrounding the farm after been dared by other children to touch the horse from behind, the non-violent horse struck the plaintiff with his hind leg causing the plaintiff to be tragically injured. The trial court granted summary judgment to the landowner, but the court of appeals reversed. ISSUE: Whether horses or domesticated livestock, without vicious propensities, kept on a farm which is close proximity to two subdivisions should be considered as an attractive nuisance denying the defendant protection under the KY statutes. RULE: Still adhering to the attractive nuisance doctrine regarding the classification of domesticate animal, following the majority view, ordinary domesticated animals do not constitute an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to children as required by the attractive nuisance doctrine and therefore cannot have been reasonably foreseen by the defendant.

APPLICATION: Here, first of all, the horses were kept within a closed fence surrounded by barb wire, a sign was also posted to warn off trespassers and considering the precautions the defendant has taken but unsuccessful to prevent trespassers by the children, the defendant has exercise a high duty of care and second, in regards to whether domesticated animals are attractive nuisance, the court held that they are not. Considering all the factual circumstances in the case, the defendant is not required to exercise a higher duty of care requires in regards to children as ascertain by the attractive nuisance doctrine b/c the domesticate animals are not A.N.

CONCLUSION: Therefore, the trial court correctly granted summary judgment.

Knorpp v. Hale FACTS: The plaintiff’s has been dating the defendant daughter for a year, had moved to be closer to her, and had been known to spent a great deal at the house. The defendants were planning a bonfire New Years Eve party and discussed cutting down the pine tree located in a pasture near their house. The decedent had been present during the discussion and on this

particular day of the accident came into the defendant’s house grab the chainsaw and started cutting the tree. After forty-five minutes, the tree fell in an unexpected direction and landed on the decedent killing him The trial court granted the defendant motion’s for a directed verdict and ruled as a matter of law that the decedent was a licensee and no evidence presented shown the defendant had been negligent under the applicable standard of a licensee ISSUE: Whether the decedent was a invitee rather than a licensee when the decedent is a regular visitor to the house, had his own key to the house and his treated as by the defendant as their sonin-law. RULE: A landowner owes a duty to exercise ordinary care to protect an invitee from risks of which the owner is actually aware and those risks of which the owner should be aware after reasonable inspection. To recover, P, as invitee, must prove landowner liable when: i. Had actual/constructive knowledge of some condition on premises ii. Condition posed unreasonable risk of harm iii. Landowner didn’t exercise reasonable care to reduce/eliminate risk iv. Landowner’s failure to use care proximately caused P’s injuries A landowner owes a duty to a licensee by not injuring him willful, wanton or gross negligent conduct, and that the owner use ordinary care to either warn a licensee of, or to make reasonable safe, a dangerous condition of which the owner is aware and the licensee is not. To recover, P, as invitee, must prove landowner liable when: v. Had actual/constructive knowledge of some condition on premises vi. Condition posed unreasonable risk of harm vii. Landowner didn’t exercise reasonable care to reduce/eliminate risk viii.Landowner’s failure to use care proximately caused P’s injuries

APPLICATION: Here, first, the decedent is not an invitee, which would have required the defendant to exercise ordinary care to warn the decedent of risks the defendant is aware of or should be aware off after inspection b/c under Texas, a social guest is classified as a licensee and as stated by the rule, the defendant duty owe to a licensee is not to injure him by willful, wanton, or gross negligence. Second, since the decedent is classified as a licensee, there is the language of mutual benefit or mutual advantage in view of a sort of business venture between the decedent and the defendant. The plaintiff contended that, the decedent had been asked by the defendant if he’s willing to participate in the cutting of the tree. The court held that the decedent is a social guest of the defendant, was not expected to get pay or that he volunteered to help with the tree as supposed to being asked, no business relationship existed between the parties and the land was not open to the public. Third, the plaintiff also contended that the defendant was aware of the danger in cutting down the tree and had failed to warn the decedent. The court held that such warning is only applicable to an invitee and since the decedent is not one it does not apply. If it does apply the argument fails on grounds that the decedent was the one that was aware of the danger of cutting down trees considering his experience working with trees and that the tree itself was not dangerous until the decedent started cutting it.

CONCLUSION: Therefore, there was nothing the defendant could have warn the decedent about b/c the dangerous condition was not created until the decedent created one, no duty to warn.

Richardson v. The Commodore, Inc FACTS: The plaintiff was at the defendant’s business establishment as a customer shooting pool at the bar when portion of the ceiling collapse, and fell on the plaintiff resulting in his injuries. Record shows the defendant’s house of establishment was built in the 1913 and the defendant had hired a contractor to repair portions of the plaster ceiling upon acquiring the building in 1982. A couple of years later the defendant installed a drop ceiling on the floor of the building to improve the efficiency of heating and cooling the premises. Between 1985 and the date of the accident, the defendant did not inspect the ceiling, or were aware of any problems with the ceilings and made no repairs. Plaintiff was struck by a portion of the original ceiling and according to the contractor who testified, the ceiling collapse due to its age, and the effect, over time, of vibration from heavy traffic on the adjoining street and had inspect the remainder of the building by climbing a ladder and using a flashlight to view whether the plaster was sagging in any areas. The district court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, holding there was no evidence the defendant knew or should have knew about the dangerous condition of the plaster ceiling. Plaintiff appealed and the court of appeals affirmed the district court decision. ISSUE: Whether the plaintiff constitute an invitee and if such the defendant should know or exercise reasonable care in discovering the dangerous condition of the ceiling prior to failing on the plaintiff.

RULE: A possessor of land is liable to an invitee for injuries sustained on his premises if he i. had actual/constructive knowledge of some condition on premises and should realize the condition posed unreasonable risk of harm ii. didn’t exercise reasonable care to reduce/eliminate risk iii. fails to exercise reasonable care to protect them from danger

APPLICATION: Here, the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care in regards to inspection of the building which is an applicable standard of an invitee. Considering the age of the ceiling the ceiling collapses due to its age, and the effect, over time, of vibration from heavy traffic on the adjoining street. The defendant should have realized the impending doom of the ceiling and should have inspect it seeing how the inspection was not an onerous or impractical which can be done by getting a ladder and a flashlight and inspect if there was an sagging areas in the ceiling as the contractor has done. Given the knowledge presented in light of how the accident came about, a jury could make an inference as whether reasonable care could have been exercise especially since the establishment is business oriented which required a higher standard of care compare to that of a private property owner. And, also the plaintiff’s assertion that the defendant creates the condition that lead to the dangerous condition is not plausible b/c the defendant

merely installed a drop ceiling and no records indicated the drop ceiling contributed to the collapse of the ceiling

CONCLUSION: Therefore, material issue of disputed fact exists as to whether reasonable care warranted an inspection and whether the inspection would have alert the defendant to the dangerous condition. The trial court erred when he stated the defendant is entitling to judgment as a matter of law. Court vacated the court of appeals decision affirming the district court, reverse the decision of the district court, and remand the case for further proceedings.