“It’s innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn’t.” Mignon McLaughlin. A child “licensee” (invited guest) was severely injured while playing on a bungee run. The opinion addresses the interplay between Colorado’s premises liability statute CRS 13-21-115, the common law doctrine of attractive nuisance, and whether the common law applies to all types of child entrants on land or, as the court of appeals held, only to trespassers. The Court concluded the doctrine applied to all children because the common law (incorporated into the statute) did not make a distinction. If the object attracted the child and caused injury, the doctrine applies. The dissents’ perspective differed. Justice Eid argued the child should be treated as a licensee. In Justice Marquez’s view, the object’s attraction causes a child to trespass, and thus the doctrine only applies to trespassers.
Tag Archives: Licensee
S.W., a minor by and through, David Wacker; and Rhonda Wacker v. Towers Boat Club, Inc., 2013CO72 (Dec 23, 2013)
“Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” – HHGTTG. Here, Plaintiff fell three stories in a dimly lit house under construction when a handrail gave way. He sued Defendant/landowner and two builders who negligently put up the handrail. The builders defaulted. The jury found for Plaintiff. Defendant appealed. The trial court did not give an instruction to apportion fault between Defendant and the builders; the court of appeals held it should have. But, since landowners have a nondelegable duty to keep property safe, and thus, Defendant was vicariously liable for all of the builders’ liability, the error was harmless. The evidence did support Plaintiff’s contributory negligence, so it was an error not to offer that instruction. Finally, Plaintiff was a licensee, not a trespasser. The case was remanded for a determination of plaintiff’s fault only.
Children are fearless and sometimes get injured when playing on someone else’s property. Typically, there are three kinds of people injured on property: an invitee, a licensee, and a trespasser. An invitee is basically a store customer for whom a landlord owes a higher level of protection; a licensee is a social guest at a house and is entitled to moderate protection; and a trespasser is on property without consent and is owed only minimal protection. However, as the court of appeals held in this case, an otherwise trespassing child who enters property because of an attractive nuisance is “invited” by the nuisance, and owed the protection of an invitee. But the attractive nuisance doctrine only applies to trespassing children. So a child “licensee” cannot rely on the doctrine. The court found the scheme constitutional because it is rational to give children higher protection.