Procedure: Petitioner Katko filed suite against the Defendents, Briney in Mahaska
District Court. Katko is suing for damages resulting from injury when Plaintiff broke into
Defendants unoccupied house and was shot by a 20- gauge spring shot gun set up by the Defendant. The jury awarded the Plaintiff $20,00 in actual damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. Defendant appealed.
Facts: Defendants inherited an unoccupied farm house and over the course of 10 years they had a series of break-ins. The defendants through the years boarded up the windows and doors, and posted "no trespass" signs. The Plaintiff broke in to steal old bottles. The Defendants set up a 20- gauge spring shot gun trap in one of the bedrooms and aimed at the intruders feet/legs. Petitioner is suing for damages relating to the injury he in-cured when the shotgun went off.
Issue: Can an owner protect personal property in an unoccupied farm house against trespassers and thieves by a spring gun capable of inflicting death or serious injury?
Decision: Iowa Supreme Court Affirmed, found for Petitioner.
Rule of Law: An landowner may not use force that is capable of inflicting death or serious injury when protecting personal property.
Reasoning: A landowner is prohibited from willfully or intentionally injuring a trespasser by means of force that either takes a life or causes great bodily injury.
Spring shot guns will likely cause great bodily