It is November 27, 2005, a Sunday just past Thanksgiving and less than a month past our celebrated Halloween. Dark is upon us early and long-abandoned properties come with stories of hauntings, ghosts and creatures we only think of when our mind runs wild. Such is the case for the young lad of 17 years. Intrigued by possible sightings of such, he ventures with friends onto the premises of the Ladd Center, an old hospital center, in the Town of Exeter that has been closed and abandoned for some eleven years and has acquired that eerie reputation exactly because it was an old hospital center. A reputation whispered among youths that also entices one to wonder how much is true and challenges groups to dare upon to see for themselves. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, the results of this endeavor where naught the kind sought. The young lad knowingly trespassed upon the property and suffered injuries from bottled sulfuric acid that was found on the premises. The family brought suit against the property owners, including the state, seeking damages because the youth had been enticed to entered the property, otherwise known as attractive-nuisance doctrine. The youth admitted that he had trespassed and was aware that he was trespassing among other admissions. The trial court held the facts of this case did not fit into the attractive-nuisance doctrine. The Plaintiff was aware he was trespassing. The Plaintiff had tested and knew that the vessels they were removing from the private property were not water. The Plaintiff appealed.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court agreed with the trial court. Specifically, the Supreme Court noticed: “It strains credulity to think that plaintiff, a seventeen-year-old who was about to complete his G.E.D., did not realize the risk involved in climbing a pipe to an upper-story window and entering a dark, abandoned building. Further, the discovery of the bottles triggered enough caution within the group for L.V. to pour some of the liquid out for further examination. As plaintiff himself testified, when he saw the liquid in the bottle, he believed it contained a hazardous material.” Accordingly, the court ruled against the Plaintiff and denied the appeal. See full decision: Burton v. State of Rhode Island