Where a railroad turntable is situated such that its owner should reasonably expect that children who are too young to appreciate the danger will try to play and amuse themselves by using it, the railroad is guilty of negligence under the attractive nuisance doctrine if it fails to take reasonable precautions to prevent this use.
The plaintiff was a four-year old boy who was injured injured while playing on a railroad turntable owned by the defendant, a railroad company. Even though the defendant had internal rules requiring that equipment to be locked and inaccessible to members of the public, the plaintiff was still able to access it upon discovering it. Plaintiff was injured, and sued for negligence.
Did the lower court err when it instructed the jury that certain of the defendant's actions constituted negligence?
Yes, the lower court erred when it instructed the jury regarding these facts.
In reversing the lower court's ruling, the Court held that the jury had been erroneously instructed as to the question of negligence, and found that the trial court had overstepped its province by instructing the jury that certain facts constitute negligence. From the wording of the lower court's instruction, the Court found that there was no way that the jury could have drawn any conclusion other than that the defendant's actions constituted negligence. Further, the fact that the lower court did not allow the jury to view the circumstances of the case in connection with their own knowledge, but failed to mention knowledge as known to the common man, was also erroneous.