Sunday, November 10, 2013

Katko v. Briney case brief

Katko v. Briney case brief summary
183 N.W.2d 657 (1971)

Appeal from Mahaska District Court (Iowa), upon a jury verdict awarding actual and punitive damages to plaintiff in an action resulting from injuries suffered by trespassing plaintiff when he triggered a spring gun placed in an uninhabited house by defendant owners.


  • Plaintiff filed an action for damages resulting from serious injury caused by a shot from a 20-gauge spring shotgun set by defendants in a bedroom of an old farm house which had been uninhabited for several years. 
  • Plaintiff and his companion had broken in and entered the house. 
  • At defendants' request plaintiff's action was tried to a jury, which returned a verdict for plaintiff and against defendants for actual and punitive damages. 
  • The trial court overruled defendants' motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial. 
The primary issue was whether an owner could protect personal property in an unoccupied boarded-up farmhouse against trespassers and thieves by a spring gun capable of inflicting death or serious injury.

The court affirmed, holding that the law did not permit spring guns to be used in such instances.

Judgment affirmed because the use of spring guns to protect uninhabited property was not permissible.

Suggested Study Aids For Tort Law

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