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Torts keyed to Robertson
Katko v. Briney
Citation:Supreme Court of Iowa, 1971. 183 N.W.2d 657.
Defendants, Bertha and Edward Briney, owned an unoccupied farmhouse on a large tract of land in Iowa. Over a span of ten years a series of trespassing and housebreaking events happened resulting in damage to the property and a loss of household items. To try and stop the intrusions the Defendants boarded up windows and doors and placed “no trespass” signs on the property. Several days prior to the events leading to this case occurred, the Defendants set up a shotgun trap with a spring gun inside of the farmhouse. The spring gun could not be seen from outside and there was no warning of it posted outside.
On July 16, 1967, Katko, the Plaintiff, and his companion, Marvin McDonough, made a trip to the Defendant’s property. They had been to the premises before to collect old bottles and jars to add to their collection of antiques. They entered the farmhouse by removing a board from a window on the porch. When the Plaintiff went to a bedroom and opened the door, the shotgun went off hitting him in the leg above his ankle. A lot of his leg, including part of his tibia, was blown away. With McDonough’s help, the Plaintiff was able to get out of the farmhouse and get to the hospital where he remained for 40 days due to his injuries.
Plaintiff conceded that he knew he had no right to break and enter into the farmhouse with the intent to steal bottles and jars from it. Additionally, he testified that he entered a plea of guilty to larceny in the nighttime for property of less than $20 value and had been fined $50 and paroled during good behavior from a 60-day jail sentence.
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