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Knight v. Kaiser Co. - 48 Cal. 2d 778, 312 P.2d 1089 (1957)

Rule:

In the absence of circumstances which bring a case under the attractive nuisance doctrine, an owner of land owes no other duty to a child trespassing on his premises than he owes to an adult trespasser. To the general rule there is this exception: If an owner of land maintains thereon what is commonly called an attractive nuisance, the owner is liable for injuries resulting to a trespassing child.

Facts:

Defendant owned and maintained premises in Stockton on which it had placed or caused to be placed large piles of sand, and gravel and, adjacent thereto, a large conveyor belt. There were no fences, guards or railings placed around the san and gravel piles or a portion of the conveyor belt. On August 1953, plaintiff’s son, while playing upon the premises and digging in one of the sand piles, was asphyxiated when it collapsed upon him. Plaintiff instituted a wrongful death action against defendant. The trial court ruled in favor of the defendant. On appeal, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s sand pile constituted an attractive nuisance, and thereby placed liability upon the defendant for the death of plaintiff’s son.

Issue:

Did the defendant’s sand pile constitute an attractive nuisance, thereby placing liability upon the defendant for the death of plaintiff’s son?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the sand pile was to be judged as an attractive nuisance on the same basis that as a body of water because, as far as attractiveness to children was concerned, there was no significant difference between a body of water and a sand pile. The Court found that pools of water and sand piles duplicated the work of nature and were not uncommon. The Court held that it was settled that a body of water, natural or artificial, did not constitute an attractive nuisance that subjected the owner to liability for trespassing children who were attracted thereto and were drowned. Therefore, the Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

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