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Q: Looking for case where burglar sued homeowner and won ( No Answer,   4 Comments )
Subject: Looking for case where burglar sued homeowner and won
Category: Reference, Education and News > Current Events
Asked by: bigjosh-ga
List Price: $35.00
Posted: 15 Jun 2003 09:23 PDT
Expires: 15 Jul 2003 09:23 PDT
Question ID: 217602
I am looking one or more relaible news articles describing cases where
a burgular broke into someone's home, injured himself durring the
robbery, and then subsuqently sued the homeowner and won.

I'm not interested in cases where the homeowner was directly involved
in the injury (shot the intruder or hit him with a baseball bat).
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Looking for case where burglar sued homeowner and won
From: pinkfreud-ga on 15 Jun 2003 10:10 PDT
I hope another Researcher will have better luck, but I have not been
able to find a single verifiable case of this happening. Most of the
online accounts are so vague as to be useless, and are probably
fabricated to make a point about our messed-up legal system:

"In another lawsuit, a burglar trying to make a quick getaway climbed
out of his victim's window, fell, and broke his ankle. He successfully
sued the homeowners for over one million dollars. Apparently, there
was a lot of pain and suffering involved."

There are a number of reports of such cases that turn out to be

Here's a case involving a burglar and a school that is mentioned all
over the Internet, but with widely differing details, and no actual
date or names:

"A famous California case involved a fellow who was attempting to rob
a local school. He fell through the skylight to the floor below,
permanently injuring himself. He sued the school district for damages
and won the suit. After all, the school should have anticipated his
possible criminal actions and taken steps to prevent his accident!!"

"Another man who fell through a skylight while burglarizing a building
in Redding, California, was awarded $250,000 in damages."

"...that burglar who injured himself falling through a skylight
$76,500 plus $1,200 a month for twenty years."

"A particular favorite of mine if the robber who broke a leg falling
through a painted-over skylight in a school in Redding, California,
sued, and won $800,000. I know this is true because I saw interminable
news stories about it."

"Many US schools have had to remove ALL play equipment, benches, etc
from their playgrounds after a burglar successfully sued a school he
broke in to when he fell over a climbing frame!"

"I am hardly a reactionary, but when I heard about the young man in
Redding who, while attempting to burglarize a High School fell through
the skylight and successfully sued the city for failing to warn him
that the skylight was unsafe, my blood boiled.  The kid got 260,000,
plus 1,200 a month for life."

"Ronald Reagan recounted how a cat burglar sued a homeowner for
injuries incurred while falling through the homeowner's skylight. When
the real case was identified, it turned out that the plaintiff was not
a cat burglar at all. He was a high school student who had been sent
to retrieve athletic equipment stored on the roof of the school and
had fallen through a skylight that had been painted black."

Here are two interesting newsgroup threads that mention the skylight
story, but no one who posts can quite track it down:
Subject: Re: Looking for case where burglar sued homeowner and won
From: sublime1-ga on 15 Jun 2003 12:30 PDT

While I'm certain that such cases must exist, they appear
very difficult to find amidst the urban legends and other
disinformation on this topic. 

A story in the UK, on the Ananova news site, details a 94 year
old woman asking to be allowed to put up razor wire around her
home subsequent to 4 break-ins in the previous 18 months:

"Northampton Borough Council initially ordered
 great-grandmother Ruby Barber to take down razor wire
 protecting her home as it was a danger to intruders."

"But now the council has said she can surround her garden
 walls with wire, as long as she uses warning signs and
 agrees to take full responsibility if a would-be intruder
 is injured."

So it's clear that the potential exists, but you do not
say whether you are looking for U.S. cases, or if incidents
in other countries will satisfy your question.

I also found a story, originally written by Dan Rozek, of
the Chicago Sun-Times, and cited on,
which tells how the family of a burglar who broke into a
tavern in Aurora, Illinois was awarded $75,000 when he was
electrocuted by a homemade security device. Although
warning signs were posted, the burglar was drunk and high
on cocaine, and didn't see the warnings.

The Chicago Sun-Times archive of the story seems unavailable,
but here's another discussion of the incident on The Northern
Star forum:

Since these doesn't exactly match your specification of
successful suits brought by a burglar against a 'home'
owner I have added the information as a comment.
However, if they satisfy your interest, let me know,
and I'll post them as an answer.

Subject: Re: Looking for case where burglar sued homeowner and won
From: saabster-ga on 16 Jun 2003 11:19 PDT
I believe because the crimminal is involved in trespassing on the
victim's property during the commission of a crime, any injury which
might occur at that time is not the responsibility of the homeowner. 
If for some reason such a charge is brought to court, I can't believe
a judge or jury would rule in favor of the crmminal.
Subject: Re: Looking for case where burglar sued homeowner and won
From: cynthia-ga on 02 Jul 2003 15:00 PDT
This cached Google page has a few leads:

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