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Gas Can in Storage Shed Not Attractive Nuisance to Trespassing Children
Description Minnesota high court reversed a jury verdict in favor of children who were killed and injured in explosion resulting from their trespassing on their neighbor's property, taking a gas can from a storage shed, and lighting it on fire. The property owner had no reason to foresee that particular danger in the event of trespass by a child.
Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words Trespass; Attractive Nuisance; Duty to Children
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Mackenhausens own small resort on a lake. A boat on a trailer was parked in a storage shed that was on the property. Some neighbor boys, all under age 10, , crawled through a hole in the storage shed, grabbed a gasoline can that was on the boat, took it outside to a junked vehicle parked on the property, and with a lighter that they had, lit the gas can. The explosion killed one boy and severely injured others. Their parents sued the property owner, contending that they maintained an attractive nuisance. The jury held the property owners 60% responsible for the injuries based on negligence. They appealed.
Decision Reversed. The fact that the property owners knew that children were often in the vicinity of their storage shed and junked vehicle was insufficient to show that they knew or had reason to know that children would trespass in their shed. For the land owner to be liable for injury to a trespassing child, there must be reasonable foreseeability of the presence of a child in a place of danger. There was no obvious danger in this instance.
Citation Croaker v. Mackenhausen, 592 N.W.2d 857 (Sup. Ct., Minn., 1999)

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