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Strait v. Crary

Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
496 N.W.2d 634 (1993)


Terry Crary (defendant), a 21-year-old, took several teenagers for a ride in his pickup truck. Crary purchased beer for the teenagers. Crary did not drink, but his passengers became very intoxicated. David Strait (plaintiff), a 16-year-old, was sitting in the cab of the truck next to Crary. While Crary was driving, Strait tried to climb through the passenger-side window to the bed of the truck to join the others. Strait fell, and Crary ran over his leg with the truck. Crary stopped the truck, picked up Strait, placed him in the truck bed, and drove him to a hospital. Strait sued Crary for negligence. Strait requested that the trial court instruct the jury to use the special standard of care for children in assessing Strait’s own role and potential negligence in the accident. The trial court declined to give this instruction. In doing so, the trial court implicitly adopted an exception to the rule that a separate standard of care applies for children. The exception provides that a child will be held to the adult standard of care, rather than the typical child standard of care, if the child engaged in an activity that is normally for adults only, and the public interest demands that the consequences fall on the child rather than on innocent victims. The jury returned a verdict that found both Strait and Crary negligent, and the jury apportioned negligence 61 percent to Strait and 39 percent to Crary. Strait appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Eich, C.J.)

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