Factual background[ edit ] Briney inherited an old farmhouse in Mahaska County, Iowawhich he had left vacant for the last ten years prior to the incident. He had the house boarded up and placed "No Trespassing" signs around the property. The house was in poor condition and was subject to frequent burglaries and break-ins.
They are, 1 is the owner of a building in which are kept household furniture, appliances, and valuables, but not occupied by a person or persons, liable in damages to an intruder who in the nighttime broke into and entered the building with the intent to steal and was shot and seriously injured by a spring gun allegedly set by the owner to frighten intruders from his property, and 2 if he is liable for compensatory damages, is this a proper case for the allowance of exemplary or punitive damages?
Thus, the first question to be resolved is the status of the law in this jurisdiction as to the means of force a property owner is privileged to use to repel 1 a mere trespasser, 2 a criminal invader, thief or burglar, where he presents no threat to human life or safety, and 3 an intruder or criminal breaking and entering a dwelling which poses a threat to human life and safety.
Overlooked by the majority is the vital problem relating to the relevancy and importance of the owner's intent in placing the device. True, some of these cases seem to turn on the negligence of the party setting the trap and an absence of adequate warning thereof, but most of them involve an alleged intentional tort.
It is also true some hold as a matter of public policy there is liability for any injury following the setting of a device Katko v briney tort case is intended to kill or inflict great bodily injury on one coming on the owner's property without permission, unless the invader poses a threat to human life, and this is so even though there is no statutory prohibition against the setting of spring guns in the jurisdiction.
Miller, supra, we have recognized in this state the doctrine that the owner of a primise is liable in damages to a mere trespasser coming upon his property for any injury occasioned by the unsafe condition of the property which the owner has intentionally permitted to exist, such as installed spring guns, unless adequate warning is given thereof.
But it does appear therein that we recognized some distinction between a mere trespass against property and a trespass involving a serious crime or involving a dwelling. Except when the trespass involves a serious crime, a crime posing a threat to human life, it may be argued that the law in this jurisdiction should limit the right of one to protect his property, that he does not have a privilege to resist a mere trespass by using a spring gun or other device which poses a threat to life.
True, there is a line of cases which seem to apply the same rule to all criminal trespasses except those involving arson, rape, assault, or other acts of violence against persons residing on the property invaded. Vance, 17 Iowa ; State v. Holbrook, 4 Bingham's Reports England, Also see annotation, 44 A.
There are others which at least infer that any serious law violation by the trespasser might permit the reasonable use of dangerous instrumentalities to repel the intruder and prevent loss or damage to one's valuable property.
Often they prohibit the use of spring guns or such devices to protect real and personal property, and of course in those instances a property owner, regardless of his intent or purpose, has no right to make use of them and is liable to anyone injured thereby. Since there has been no such statutory prohibition or direct judicial pronouncement to that effect prior to this time in this state, it could not be said as a matter of law that the mere placing of a spring gun in a building on one's premises is unlawful.
Much depends upon its placement and purpose. Whether an owner exceeds his privilege to reasonably defend his property by such an installation, and whether liability is incurred in a given case, should therefore depend upon the circumstances revealed, the intent of the property owner, and his care in setting the device.
In any event, I question whether it should be determined solely by the results of his act or its effect upon the intruder. In all of these cases there is a question as to [ N. Intent, of course, may be determined from both direct and indirect evidence, and it is true the physical facts may be and often are sufficient to present a jury issue.
I think they were here, but no clear instruction was given in this regard. Of course, under this concept, if the finder of fact determines the gun set in an unoccupied house was intended to do no more than to frighten the intruder or sting him a bit, no liability would be incurred under such pleadings as are now presented.
If such a concept of the law were adopted in Iowa, we would have here a question for the fact-finder or jury as to whether the gun was willfully and intentionally set so as to seriously injure the thief or merely scare him away.
What I mean to say is that under such circumstances as we have here the issue as to whether the set was with an intent to seriously injure or kill an intruder is a question of fact that should be left to the jury under proper instructions, the that the mere setting of such a device with a resultant serious injury should not as a matter of law establish liability.
In such matters they say no privilege to set up the device should be recognized by the courts regardless of the owner's intent. In such cases intent and the reasonableness of the force would seem relevant to liability. Miller, supra, 37 Iowa trap gun set in orchard to repel ; State v.
Vance, supra, 17 Iowa ; Phelps v. Plumlee, supra, La. Dameron, supra, 96 Colo.Katko v. Briney was a battery tort case that occurred in Iowa in The plaintiff, Marvin Katko was illegally infringing on private farmland and entered a farmhouse with signs warning “No Trespassing”.
Katko v. Briney, N.W.2d (Iowa ), was a court case decided by the Supreme Court of Iowa, in which a homeowner (Edward Briney) was held liable for battery for injuries caused to a trespasser (Marvin Katko) who set off a spring gun set as a mantrap in .
Katko v Briney Criminal Justice Restorative Justice Case Brief Katko v. Briney, famous tort case decided by the Supreme Court of Iowa homeowner (Edward Briney) was held liable for battery for injuries caused to a trespasser (Marvin Katko) who set off a spring gun set as a mantrap in an abandoned house on the homeowner's property.
Katko v. Briney--"The Spring-Gun Case" | NW2d | February 09, Marvin KATKO, Appellee, v. Edward BRINEY and Bertha L. Briney, Appellants.
No. 5. Supreme Court of Iowa. 6. It ruled in an intentional tort case that exemplary [ N.W.2d ] damages could be awarded only in cases (1) for oppressive arbitrary, or. View this case and other resources at: Citation. 3 Cal. 69, Cal. Brief Fact Summary. Marvin E. Katko (Plaintiff), filed an action for.
Briney, N.W.2d (Iowa ), the unsuccessful defendants brought this equity action in district court. Herein they sought an injunction restraining Katko, the successful plaintiff in the earlier case, from enforcing his judgment.