King v. Lennen

53 Cal. 2d 340, 1 Cal. Rptr. 665, 348 P.2d 98 (1959)

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King v. Lennen

California Supreme Court
53 Cal. 2d 340, 1 Cal. Rptr. 665, 348 P.2d 98 (1959)

  • Written by Sharon Feldman, JD

Facts

The Lennens (defendants) maintained a swimming pool on their corner property. The Kings (plaintiffs) and their one-and-a-half-year-old son Boyd lived across the street. One morning, Boyd was found at the bottom of the Lennens’ pool. The Kings sued for Boyd’s wrongful death. The complaint alleged that a concrete wall with an opening opposite the pool faced one street; a wood fence with openings through which children could enter faced the other street; the pool water was dirty and the pool bottom not visible; a sharp drop separated the shallow and deep ends; a slippery material lined the pool’s walls and bottom; the pool had no rails, steps, or ladder; the Lennens’ animals roamed freely around the pool; young children, attracted by the pool and animals, entered and played with the animals in and near the pool; the Lennens’ daughter had babysat Boyd and brought him to the Lennens’ home to play with the animals; the pool posed an unreasonable risk of harm to young children unable to realize or appreciate the danger; and precautions could have been taken at little cost. The court sustained the Lennens’ demurrer to the complaint. The Kings appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gibson, C.J.)

Dissent (Spence, J.)

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