On March 31, 2006, Betty Walker, her daughter, and her granddaughter were walking to the Penney store via the sidewalk around the Penney building at the Greenwood Park Mall when a Canada goose attacked Mrs. Walker. The goose landed on her head, forcing her into a brick wall and then onto the sidewalk, a sidewalk owned by JCPenney. Â The attack continued until passersby assisted Mrs. Walker. Mrs. Walker filed suit against JCPenney, the mall, and IPC, the mallâ€™s security company for their failure to protect her from rogue foreign geese.Â The mall and IPC moved for summary judgment, and the court granted summary judgment to the two parties.Â JCPenney appealed.
The court held that the agreement between JCPenney and the mall provided that the mall had no duty for maintenance or security on property areas owned by tenants.Â The sidewalk on which Mrs. Walker was attacked was not mall property but that of JCPenney.Â Therefore, the mall and IPC were not responsible for customers in that area.Â The summary judgment was upheld and JCPenney was left to go forward with the suit with the main question being whether the owner of commercial property has a duty to protect its patrons from injury resulting from the activities of a third party (goose).Â The issues of duty and forseeability were left for trial.Â Relevant questions for the case:
- Â Had other customers been attacked?
- Was JCPenney aware of the goose risk?
- Should JCPenney have been aware of the goose risk?
- Should JCPenney have provided customer security in the area where the goose attacked?
- What are the public policy implications of holding a landowner liable for the activities of the natural fauna on the property?
These are the types of cases that provide us with great law class discussions as well as issues of probability:Â What are the chances that a goose would attack a customer?Â What are the chances that a goose would attack a customer in an area where the mall and its security company would not have jurisdiction?Â Astronomical odds do make for great legal cases.