Gillespie v. Wheatland Industrial Co., 779

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBEARD, JUSTICE.
Citation140 P. 832,22 Wyo. 331
Docket Number779
Decision Date15 May 1914

140 P. 832

22 Wyo. 331


No. 779

Supreme Court of Wyoming

May 15, 1914

ERROR to the District Court, Laramie County; HON. RODERICK N. MATSON, Judge.

Alexander B. Gillespie brought the action against the Wheatland Industrial Co., a corporation, to recover damages for the death of cattle belonging to the plaintiff caused by their falling into an open ditch upon uninclosed land owned by the defendant. From a judgment for the defendant the plaintiff brought error. The other material facts are stated in the opinion.


Frank E. Anderson, for plaintiff in error.

The failure of the company to guard the excavation was the natural and proximate cause of the injury to and loss of the cattle, and not the storm. (Ditch Co. v. Morrow, 8 Wyo. 537). The ditch was negligently maintained upon the open range. Plaintiff's cattle were not trespassing upon the land. (State v. Johnson, 7 Wyo. 512). And defendant is liable for the natural, ordinary and reasonable consequence of its neglect. (1 Sutherland on Damages, 57; Howell v. Big Horn B. C. Co., 14 Wyo. 24; 1 Thomp. on Neg., Sec. 957; Haughey v. Hart, 62 Ia. 96, 49 Am. Rep. 138; Jones v. Nichols, 46 Ark. 207, 54 Am. Rep. 575; Noblesville Gas & Imp. Co. v. Teter (Ind.), 26 N.E. 635; Young v. Harvey, 16 Ind. 314). The defendant was chargeable with knowledge that storms might occur, and that stock on the open range might drift with the storm upon its uninclosed land, and under these conditions leaving the ditch unguarded and unfenced was not such conduct as would be exercised by a reasonably prudent man. The defendant was liable under the statute making reservoir owners liable without regard to negligence for all damages arising from leakage or overflow of the waters of the reservoir, or by floods caused by breaking the embankments thereof. (Rev. Stat. 1899, Sec. 974).

Clark & Clark, for defendant in error.

The question is whether a land owner is under any obligation to safeguard dangerous structures upon his land in order to prevent injury to trespassing cattle. The present action seems to have been instituted under a misconception of the ground of the decision in Ditch Co. v. Morrow, 8 Wyo. 537. There the ditch company had utilized a natural draw as part of its ditch and by reason of the excessive grade a deep channel had been washed which became dangerous to animals. The plaintiff in that case was the owner of the land through which the dangerous channel had been washed, subject to an easement of the ditch company for its ditch, and he therefore had a right to graze and range his animals upon the land. The decision was therefore based, and properly so, upon the fact that the cattle were rightfully upon the premises. The cases cited and relied upon by counsel for plaintiff are not applicable to the facts in the case at bar. They were decided upon exceptions to the general rule that it is not the duty of the owner of uninclosed lands to render them safe for straying cattle. While an actionable trespass is not committed by cattle straying upon the land of another, that results from statutes placing the burden upon the landowner to protect his land against such cattle by fencing; but the cattle nevertheless are not rightfully upon the land, and are therefore trespassing thereon. It is the general rule that the owner or the one in possession of land is under no legal obligation to keep it safe for the protection of animals running at large. (1 Thomp. on Neg., Sec. 155). That rule is applicable to this state. (Martin v. Ry. Co., 15 Wyo. 493. See also Hughes v. R. R. Co., 66 Mo. 325; Wilt v. Couglin, (Mo. App.) 161 S.W. 888; Beinhorn v. Griswold, 27 Mont. 79, 69 P. 557). The statute cited in the opposing brief imposing liability upon reservoir owners refers only to damage caused by the leakage of water, and has no application to the facts in this case. The plaintiff seeks to recover for negligence, and the negligence complained of is the failure to fence the ditch, not the construction of a pit-fall. But...

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11 cases
  • Loney v. Laramie Auto Co., 1320
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 26, 1927
    ...Defendant showed plaintiff no active duty; no breach of legal duty was shown; 38 Cyc. 418; Hines v. Sweeney, 28 Wyo. 57; Gillespie v. Co., 22 Wyo. 331; Winterbottom v. Wright, 10 M. & W. 109; Losee v. Clute, 51 N.Y. 494; Bank v. Ward, 100 U.S. 195; Safe Co. v. Ward, 46 N. J. L. 19; Earl v. ......
  • Gillespie v. Board of Com'rs of Albany County, 1806
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • March 13, 1934
    ...Co. v. Stewart (Mo.) 35 S.W. 627. In this state landowners are required to fence out range stock. Gillespie v. Wheatland Industrial Co., 22 Wyo. 331; State v. Johnson, 7 Wyo. 512. The right of way was one of the elements of damage to lands of respondent. Section 42-114, R. S. 1931. The rule......
  • Andersen v. Two Dot Ranch, Inc., No. 00-67.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 12, 2002
    ...lawfully running at large wander upon and depasture the uninclosed lands of a private owner. [¶ 17] Gillespie v. Wheatland Industrial Co., 22 Wyo. 331, 140 P. 832 (1914), clarified the nature of the open range doctrine as applied in Wyoming. In Gillespie, the plaintiff's cattle strayed from......
  • Coulsen v. Aberdeen-Springfield Canal Co., 4958
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • May 10, 1929
    ...A., N. S., 140; Gould v. Reed, 34 Idaho 618, 203 P. 284; Wilt v. Coughlin, 176 Mo.App. 275, 161 S.W. 888; Gillespie v. Wheatland Ind. Co., 22 Wyo. 331, Ann. Cas. 1917A, 387, 140 P. 832, 52 L. R. A., N. S., 133.) Even a railway, which maintains on its right of way the most dangerous agency p......
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