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  • Bonney v. Canadian National Railway Co.Bonney v. Canadian National Railway Co.
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Bonney v. Canadian National Railway Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
800 F.2d 274 (1986)


Police officer Rodney Bonney drowned attempting to save a 15-year-old trespasser who fell off a railway bridge into the river below. The bridge had no guardrails and nothing to prevent someone from falling off the sides except widely spaced steel supports. For decades, the railway knew that locals frequently used the bridge as a shortcut and posted No Trespassing signs, but vandals removed them. The trespassing teen attempted to ride his bicycle across the bridge, at night, outside the rails, despite his companion’s warning that he would die. Bonney’s widow (plaintiff) sued the bridge’s owner, Canadian National Railway Co. (defendant) under the rescue doctrine. The trial court found the railway’s failure to safeguard pedestrians sufficiently wanton to impose a duty to the trespasser, and thus liability to Bonney as a rescuer. The railway appealed, arguing its failure to make the property safe for trespassers did not amount to wanton misconduct under Maine law.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Campbell, C.J.)

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