South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Visiting Child Injured When She Went to Horse Barn Was Trespasser
Description Appeals court held that a child visiting the home of a friend was a social guest owed ordinary duty of care while in the home. When she left the home without permission and was injured by a horse when she went to the barn, she became a trespasser so the property owner was not liable for negligence.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence; Animals; Duty; Attractive Nuisance; Social Guest; Trespasser; Licensee
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Erica, age 7, was invited to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house. She did not have permission to leave the house and go into the horse barn, but she did. While in the barn, she was kicked by a horse and suffered an injury. Her mother sued the property owners for negligence. The trial court dismissed the case. Erica’s mother appealed.

Affirmed. A host owes a social guest the duty to exercise ordinary care not to cause injury to the guest by any act of the host, or by any activities carried on by the host while the guest is on the premises, and to warn the guest of any condition which is known to the host and which one of ordinary prudence and foresight in the position of the host should reasonably consider dangerous. A host is not an insurer of the safety of a social guest; a guest assumes the ordinary risks that attach to the premises. Erica was a social guest in the home for dinner. She did not have permission to leave the house and visit the horse barn, at which point she became a trespasser or a licensee. The horse was not an attractive nuisance, so when Erica became a trespasser, she was not owed a duty of ordinary care. She had been warned about the horse before and was old enough to appreciate the danger.

Citation Aponte v. Castor, --- N.E.2d --- (2003 WL 22947538, Ct. App., Ohio, 2003)

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