Sunday, November 10, 2013

O’Guin v. Bingham County case brief

O’Guin v. Bingham County case brief summary
122 P.3d 308 (2005)

The District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, Bingham County, Idaho, granted summary judgment in favor of appellees, county, county commissioners, and county public works (county) on appellant guardians' suit against the county alleging that the landfill where their children were killed was an attractive nuisance and that the county breached legal duties to control access to the landfill. The guardians appealed.

The guardians argued that once the district court determined that the regulations established a duty and the county had breached that duty, there was no need to apply the common law willful or wanton standard.

  • The appellate court agreed with the district court that the statute and regulations clearly defined the county's standard of conduct. 40 C.F.R. 258.35 required the county to block access to the landfill when an attendant was not on duty and it was unlawful, pursuant to Idaho Code § 39-7402(1), to fail to comply with the landfill rules. 
  • The landfill was closed and no attendant was on duty. 
  • Landfill operators had a duty not only to prevent illegal dumping and unauthorized vehicular traffic, but to control public access. 
  • The injury to the safety of the children was the type of harm the regulations were intended to prevent because the deaths related directly to control of public access and protection of human health and safety. 
  • The children were members of the class of persons the regulations were designed to protect. 
  • The regulations were sufficient to satisfy the duty element for a negligence per se action. 
  • There was no basis for an award of attorney fees to the county.


The judgment was vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings.

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