Issue: Should Arnold and Sylvia Barfknecht have been convicted of a negligent tort against Betty Pichelman? Rule: A negligent tort involves the failure to exercise reasonable care to protect another’s person or property. It wouldn’t qualify for an intentional tort because Arnold and Sylvia did not willfully take actions that were likely to cause injury. Duty, Branch of Duty, Causation, and Damages are all required in order for a plaintiff to prove negligence of a defendant.
The reasonable person standard, which the courts use to determine whether or not an individual owes a duty of care to another, states that the courts generally hold that landowners have a duty of care to protect individuals on their property. However, in Hudson v. Janesville Conservation Club, Hudson held that under the statute 895. 52, “no owner is liable for any injury resulting from an attack by a wild animal. ” An exception to this statute is if the injury occurs to a social guest who has been invited to their property by the owner. Section 895.
52 of Wisconsin law also provides property owners with immunity from liability to anyone injured by a person engaging in recreational activity regardless of whether the injured person was also engaged in recreational activity. Analysis: The statute 895. 52 provides immunity from liability for any owners of wild animals causing injuries on their property, however, it is questionable as to whether the raccoon is really considered a wild animal simply because other members of its species run free and are perceived as being un-predictable at times.
The Barfknechts defend themselves by saying that “the fact that Babe was something of a pet does not take him out of the category of ferae naturae. ” Because of the fact that the courts say she was not involved in a recreational activity, they were not taking her side in the case. She was delivering groceries at her friend’s request. Property owners have a duty to keep the property safe for recreational activities, which Betty believes that that legislation should be edited to protect not only people taking place in recreational activities.
Anyone providing a service to a home should be equally protect, which Betty was doing. Due to the fact that Betty was a social friend of the Barfknechts, it is questionable as to whether or not she should have been considered a social guest when entering the premises. If she had been considered a social guest, the courts would have made an exception against statute 895. 52. the courts failed to find a duty that Sylvia and Arnold owed Betty and if there is no existing duty, then no legal liability can take place on account of negligence.
Betty was unable to provide a breach of duty. This same situation occurred in Roland C. Feichtner v. City of Cleveland Et. Al. Feichtner filed a negligence claim against Cleveland and five construction companies, but was unable to establish a duty. Therefore, he lost his case. Conclusion: Sylvia and Arnold are not held liable for a negligent tort against Betty because even though they didn’t warn her of unsafe conditions on their property, she simply wasn’t involved in a recreational activity upon entering their premises. Questions: 1. I am surprised by the verdict.
I would have fully expected Betty to win this case as she was injured by a wild animal. I would have expected that Sylvia and Arnold would have a duty towards her to keep their property safe, even though she wasn’t involved in a recreational activity. 2. The main lesson to be learned in this case is to be very cautious upon entering anyone’s property. Check for vicious dogs and in this case, wild animals as pets. As I now know, there are statutes out there that will unintentionally defend what should, in my opinion, be guilty people. 3.
The verdict seems to be somewhat in line with what I read in the text book. However, I was reading a lot about duties and the reasonable person standards, and it shocks me that those didn’t find a way to come into play more in this case. 4. Before reading this chapter and this case, if I heard of an instance of a lady delivering groceries to a house with a wild pet as an animal and getting injured, I would have automatically assumed that the owner of the “pet” would be found guilty for multiple reasons. It wouldn’t ever have occurred to me that the one injured would have lost the case.