Age And Experience Can Be Expected To Appreciate.
It is established Illinois law that landowners have “no duty” with respect to
conditions that “present obvious risks which children would be expected to appreciate.”
Cope, 102 Ill. 2d at 286. Under the Kahn doctrine, Choate bore the burden of establishing
that there was a condition on defendants’ property presenting risks that “children
generally . . . would not be expected” to appreciate because of their youth. Id. (emphasis
added). This burden was one that Choate could not satisfy, because, as a matter of law,
the danger of trying to jump onto a moving train is obvious to any child old enough to be
“at large” without adult supervision.
1. Illinois courts have long recognized that the danger of certain conditions is, as
a matter of law, obvious to children. These “obvious dangers include”—but are not
limited to—“fire, drowning in water, or falling from a height.” Mt. Zion, 169 Ill. 2d at
118 (citing DAN B. DOBBS ET AL., PROSSER AND KEETON ON TORTS § 59, at 407 (5th ed.
1984)); Cope, 102 Ill. 2d at 280, 286 (citing Restatement § 339, cmt. j); see also Booth,
224 Ill. App. 3d at 725 (“danger associated with power lines”). Such dangers “‘may
reasonably be expected to be fully understood and appreciated by any child of an age to
be allowed at large.’” Corcoran, 73 Ill. 2d at 327 (quoting Restatement § 339, cmt. j).
For more than a century, Illinois courts have recognized that a moving train
presents an objectively obvious danger to children. In LeBeau v. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati
Chi. & St. Louis Ry. Co., 69 Ill. App. 557 (1st Dist. 1897), the court held that a railroad
company had no duty to prevent the plaintiff, a 10-year-old child, from being injured
when he tried to “hitch” or “jump” onto a moving train. The peril in which the child
placed himself was clear: “[j]umping from the ground upon a moving freight train is
dangerous, [and] all men and all ordinarily intelligent boys ten years of age know it to be