Taylor v. Olsen
578 P.2d 779 (Or. 1978).
Taylor is the plaintiff. Lost and appealed.
Is a landowner liable for fallen trees that fell from their property to the general public?
Complete a risk analysis: L * P > B
The defendant had no duty to check this tree any further. Affirmed.
Landowner owned property next to a highway for the purposes of logging. One a cold dark evening, one of his trees had fallen and the plaintiff sustained injuries from crashing into it. Turns out that the tree had decay, but the decay was undetectable form the outside.
We need to conduct a risk analysis. Why would we hold the defendant liable? To prevent injuries. Could it have been foreseen that the tree in question would cause the injury? It depends. We need to examine the purpose of using the property, the standard of care taken to check the trees, and examine the burden to check all the trees. Here, he had a ton of trees, so checking every roadside tree would have been quite burdensome. The damage to this tree was hidden, and the basic standard practices would not have discovered the decay. Therefore, there was no error in directing a verdict for the jury.
Landowners are not liable to outsiders for what their property does. Trees are the only exception where courts like to balance the risk.
The original rule was that a landowner had no duty to protect others from those things that arose as a state of nature. However, trees are the exception to the rule.
Instead, we need to look at a variety of circumstances related to the trees:
- The number of trees
- The landowners use of the trees (if you are logging, then you are already among the trees
- Nearby traffic
This is a better standard than making a “urban v. rural” distinction.
- There is a higher standard of care due to their profession and the nearby traffic.
- However, it wasn’t found by a reasonable inspection. Therefore, there is no cause-in-fact. The element is missing for the plaintiff to find a case.
Salevan v. Wilmington Park, Inc.
72 A.2d 239 (Del. 1950).
Salevan is the plaintiff.
Is a landowner liable for baseballs traveling to the adjacent road next to the park?
Risk analysis B < L * P
Did not take reasonable precautions, judgement for the plaintiff.
Defendant was a baseball park owner. Several games were played on the weekends. During each of these games, about 2-3 baseballs would leave the park on a foul ball. One of the balls hit the plaintiff who was walking on the sidewalk next to the park. She sued for the injuries she sustained.
Although there was a 10ft fence, it was clear that it was not helping. As such, the defendant knew of the danger that he was causing and did not have a right to impede on the rights of others who were passing by. Therefore, he should have taken additional precautions to remove the injury.
Landowners will have liability for things that are in their possession which are leaving the property. On the other hand, the landowner is not liable for those objects that are naturally leaving the property (spreading of weeds).
The defendant had taken precautions but was not sufficient because there was still a foreseeable injury that was occurring. Lots of B< P*L going on here.
Additionally, if a person is straying a short distance onto the private land for the purpose of “casual travel”, then landowners can be liable for defects that occur on that land.
- This case is an artificial condition where the landowners actions may cause injury out of the property.
We are beginning on focusing on premises liability. This is a very old type of case law where we are trying to determine when an owner or possessor has a duty to those outside and within the premises or property.
One could argue that this is a type of negligence. Instead, it developed rules to determine the status of a person using the land and determined what duty was owed to them because of that status. The three big statuses are:
- and Invitee
The above is sorted in hierarchal order from the least amount of duty owed to the status, to the most amount of duty owed to the status.
This has evolved though to include information about those who are adjacent to the property, protecting the property (firefighters), or children.
The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.