Keffe v. Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Co.

Decision Date11 January 1875
Citation21 Minn. 207
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court
PartiesPATRICK KEFFE, an Infant, by his Guardian, <I>vs.</I> MILWAUKEE & ST. PAUL RAILWAY COMPANY.

Mead & Thompson, for appellant.

Bigelow, Flandrau & Clark, for respondent, relied on the opinion of Hall, J., and the cases therein cited.1


In the elaborate opinion of the court below, which formed the basis of the argument for the defendant in this court, the case is treated as if the plaintiff was a mere trespasser, whose tender years and childish instincts were no excuse for the commission of the trespass, and who had no more right than any other trespasser to require the defendant to exercise care to protect him from receiving injury while upon its turn-table. But we are of opinion that, upon the facts stated in the complaint, the plaintiff occupied a very different position from that of a mere voluntary trespasser upon the defendant's property, and it is therefore unnecessary to consider whether the proposition advanced by the defendant's counsel, viz, that a land-owner owes no duty of care to trespassers, is not too broad a statement of a rule which is true in many instances.

To treat the plaintiff as a voluntary trespasser is to ignore the averments of the complaint, that the turn-table, which was situate in a public (by which we understand an open, frequented) place, was, when left unfastened, very attractive, and, when put in motion by them, was dangerous to young children, by whom it could be easily put in motion, and many of whom were in the habit of going upon it to play. The turn-table, being thus attractive, presented to the natural instincts of young children a strong temptation; and such children, following, as they must be expected to follow, those natural instincts, were thus allured into a danger whose nature and extent they, being without judgment or discretion, could neither apprehend nor appreciate, and against which they could not protect themselves. The difference between the plaintiff's position and that of a voluntary trespasser, capable of using care, consists in this, that the plaintiff was induced to come upon the defendant's turn-table by the defendant's own conduct, and that, as to him, the turntable was a hidden danger, a trap.

While it is held that a mere licensee "must take the permission with its concomitant conditions, it may be perils," (Hounsell v. Smith, 7 C. B. (N. S.) 731; Bolch v. Smith, 7 H. & N. 836,) yet even such licensee has a right to require that the owner of the land shall not knowingly and carelessly put concealed dangers in his way. Bolch v. Smith, per Channell and Wilde, B B.; Corby v. Hill, 4 C. B. (N. S.) 556, per Willes, J.

And where one goes upon the land of another, not by mere license, but by invitation from the owner, the latter owes him a larger duty. "The general rule or principle applicable to this class of cases is that an owner or occupant is bound to keep his premises in a safe and suitable condition for those who come upon and pass over them, using due care, if he has held out any inducement, invitation or allurement, either express or implied, by which they have been led to enter thereon." Per Bigelow, C....

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149 cases
  • Brown v. Salt Lake City
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • 9 Enero 1908
    ... ... 863; Engstrom v. Minneapolis, 78 Minn. 200; ... Bausher v. St. Paul, 75 N.W. 745; Forsythe v ... Oswego, 95 N.Y.S. 33; Postel v ... Neg. 300; Peters ... v. Bowman, 115 Cal. 345, 47 P. 113, 598; Keffe v ... Railroad, 21 Minn. 207, 18 Am. Rep. 393.) ... The ... v. Stout, ... 17 Wall. (U.S.) 657, 21 L.Ed. 745, Keffe v. Milwaukee, ... St. P. Ry., 21 Minn. 207, 18 Am. Rep. 393, and ... Barrett v. So ... ...
  • Ryan v. Towar
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 22 Octubre 1901
    ... ... children and adults. In the case of Sturgis v. Railway ... Co., 72 Mich. 619, 40 N.W. 914, Mr. Justice Campbell ... said, 'It ... Among ... the earliest of these is Keffe v. Railroad Co., 21 ... Minn. 207, 18 Am. Rep. 393. This was a turntable ... ...
  • Nashville Lumber Co. v. Busbee
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • 5 Junio 1911
    ... ... In ... Wolf v. Railway Company, 55 Ohio St. 517, ... at p. 533, the court says: ... "In those ... Edgington v. Burlington, C. R. & N. Ry. Co., ... supra , see Keffe v. Milwaukee, etc., R ... Co. , 21 Minn. 207; Kansas Cent. Ry. Co ... ...
  • Barney v. The Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad Company
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • 9 Enero 1895
    ... ... the defendant company's cars in its railway yard in the ... city of St. Joseph, requiring amputation of the larger ... 507, Railroad v. Stout , 17 ... Wall. 657, 21 L.Ed. 745 and Keffe v. Railroad , 21 ... Minn. 207, said: "These cases seem to reach the ... ...
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