Kempf v. Boehrig, 79-925

CourtCourt of Appeals of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtBODE
Citation290 N.W.2d 562,95 Wis.2d 435
PartiesLinda KEMPF, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Dennis K. BOEHRIG, Defendant-Appellant. *
Docket NumberNo. 79-925,79-925
Decision Date26 February 1980

Page 562

290 N.W.2d 562
95 Wis.2d 435
Linda KEMPF, Plaintiff-Respondent,
Dennis K. BOEHRIG, Defendant-Appellant. *
No. 79-925.
Court of Appeals of Wisconsin.
Submitted on Briefs Nov. 8, 1979.
Opinion Released Feb. 26, 1980.
Opinion Filed Feb. 26, 1980.

Page 563

[95 Wis.2d 436] Alan D. Eisenberg and Thomas D. Kuehl, Milwaukee, submitted brief for defendant-appellant.

Neil Hobbs of Edgarton & Hobbs, Fond du Lac, submitted brief for plaintiff-respondent.

Before VOSS, P. J., and BROWN and BODE, JJ.

BODE, Judge.

This negligence action arises out of a July 18, 1975 motorcycle-pedestrian accident involving defendant Dennis Boehrig's minor son Jeffrey and the plaintiff Linda Kempf. The plaintiff thereafter commenced this action for personal injuries alleging that Jeffrey Boehrig was negligent in the operation of his motorcycle and that Dennis Boehrig was negligent in the control and supervision of his son. Jeffrey died of cancer prior to trial, so the matter was tried with Dennis Boehrig as the sole defendant.

In response to the special verdict questions, the jury found Jeffrey and Dennis Boehrig and the plaintiff all causally negligent of the accident and assigned the following percentages to each of them:

Jeffrey Boehrig 35% Dennis Boehrig 60% Linda Kempf 5%

The jury assessed the plaintiff's damages at $15,131.75. After the verdict, the defendant moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on grounds that the was not [95 Wis.2d 437] negligent as a matter of law and for a reduction in damages on grounds that the amount awarded by the jury was excessive. The trial court denied these motions whereupon the defendant brought this appeal.

The accident occurred on Linden Beach Road in Taycheedah, Wisconsin sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 p. m. Linden Beach Road runs east from Lake Winnebago to Highway 151. It is a county blacktop road, twenty feet in width with no center line or shoulder. Although it is a county owned road, there was at the time of the accident a "private" sign located at the point where it joins Highway 151.

Earlier in the day, the defendant had purchased the motorcycle involved in the accident for his son. He bought the motorcycle so Jeffrey could drive to and from his job at the Town and Country Club. Shortly after 9:00 p. m., Jeffrey left the Boehrig cottage and drove his motorcycle south on Lake Road. Lake Road is a private gravel road that runs north and south and joins

Page 564

Linden Beach Road at its west end. Jeffrey turned his motorcycle left onto Linden Beach Road and proceeded east. Approximately 540 feet east of the intersection of Lake Road and Linden Beach Road, the plaintiff and a female friend were conversing with two boys on motorcycles who had parked them either just off the road or in the eastbound lane of traffic. As Jeffrey approached the group, the plaintiff saw a motorcycle coming towards them with the headlight "bobbing around." The plaintiff attempted to run to the north side of the road to avoid the oncoming motorcycle. Jeffrey swerved his motorcycle to avoid hitting one of the motorcycles parked on or near the road and struck the plaintiff, breaking two bones in her ankle.

The plaintiff testified it was dusk at the time of the accident. In a deposition taken before his death, Jeffrey testified it was completely dark. After the accident, [95 Wis.2d 438] Jeffrey told the investigating police officer that he was adjusting the headlight on the motorcycle while he drove east on Linden Beach Road just prior to the accident. In his deposition, Jeffrey admitted adjusting the headlight but claimed he completed the adjustment before turning onto the paved road. Jeffrey further stated that his parents never told him that he could not drive the motorcycle after dark.

The defendant admitted he had not specifically forbidden Jeffrey to operate the motorcycle after dark. He also testified he allowed Jeffrey to ride on Linden Beach Road but that he believed it was a private road. Jeffrey was under sixteen years of age on the date of the accident. He did not have a driver's license or learner's permit authorizing him to operate a motorcycle on public roads.

Section 343.45, Stats., provides in part:

343.45 Permitting unauthorized person to drive. (1) No person shall cause or knowingly permit his child or ward under 18 years of age to operate a motor vehicle upon any highway in violation of this chapter or when such minor is not authorized under this chapter to operate a motor vehicle.

(2) No person shall authorize or knowingly permit a motor vehicle owned by him or under his control to be operated upon any highway in violation of this chapter or by a person who is not authorized under this chapter to operate a motor vehicle. . . .

An obvious purpose of the above statute is to protect other users of highways from the dangers inherent in the operation of a motor vehicle by one too inexperienced or incompetent to do so safely. The prohibition against minors under the age of sixteen constitutes a legislative determination that such minors are incompetent.

When the purpose of a statute is to protect a certain class of persons from a particular type of harm, a violation[95 Wis.2d 439] of the statutory prohibition which results in the...

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5 cases
  • Bankert v. Threshermen's Mut. Ins. Co., 80-2058
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • November 17, 1981
    ...own negligence in entrusting an object, such as a weapon or vehicle, to a child who is incapable of using it safely. Kempf v. Boehrig, 95 Wis.2d 435, 441, 290 N.W.2d 562, 565 (Ct.App.1980); 1 see Hopkins v. Droppers, 184 Wis. 400, 403, 198 N.W. 738, 739 (1924), aff'd after remand, 191 Wis. ......
  • State, Law Enforcement Standards Bd. v. Village of Lyndon Station, 78-456
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • July 28, 1980
    ...substantive changes have been made, a violation of sec. 346.67 remains a misdemeanor, as it was in 1935. McDonald, 95 Wis.2d at 428-29, 290 N.W.2d at 562. The same reasoning is applicable here, but with the opposite result. Section 946.12, Stats., was created by sec. 1, ch. 696, Laws of 195......
  • McCart v. Muir, 52816
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • February 27, 1982
    ...18 years of age to operate a motor vehicle when said child or ward is not authorized by law to do so. [230 Kan. 624] In Kempf v. Boehrig, 95 Wis.2d 435, 290 N.W.2d 562 (1980), the appellate court in Wisconsin affirmed a verdict finding the minor son 35%, the father 60%, and plaintiff 5% cau......
  • Bankert by Habush v. Threshermen's Mut. Ins. Co., 80-2058
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • February 3, 1983
    ...we will refer only to Threshermen's Mutual Insurance Company. 3 See, McGee v. Hahn, 192 Wis. 121, 212 N.W. 66 (1927); Kempf v. Boehrig, 95 Wis.2d 435, 290 N.W.2d 720 (Ct.App.1980), for recent discussions of Hopkins v. 4 We omit any discussion of statutory liability of parents; e.g., sec. 34......
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