In Sandston, Virginia, Bryan Tucker is not known as kid friendly. Tucker was upset that kids would stray into his yard while waiting for the bus. His solution? He installed an electric fence and started shocking kids.
He is quoted as shrugging off the criticism by saying to WTVR-News that “They don’t respect other people’s land.”
It does appear legal to install the fence but that leaves questions of torts and whether such a fence could be the basis for a battery or negligence case. The voltage is low but he has reason to know of children in the area. Indeed, they appear to be his targets. Child trespassers are given special protections from the usual rule that there is no duty owed to trespassers. Moreover, there are duties of notice for discovered or anticipated trespassers. There are also cases governing attractive nuisance cases where children are drawn by proximity or curiosity to a danger. The Restatement Second Section 339 states five elements, including (1) the place where the condition exists is one on which the possessor knows or has reason to know that children are likely to trespass; (2) the condition is one of which the possessor knows or has reason to know and which he realizes or should realize will involve an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to such children, (3) the children, because of their youth, do not discover the condition or realize the risk involved in inter-meddling with it or in coming within the area made dangerous by it; (4) the utility to the possessor of maintaining the condition and the burden of eliminating the danger are slight as compared with the risk to children involved, and (5) the possessor fails to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or otherwise to protect the children.
Many would view an electric fence as facially unreasonable. However, such fences are more common in rural areas, particularly areas with livestock. With the fence down, it appears that the greatest liability for Tucker will remain his reputation. Parents complained but all the police could do is force Tucker to move his fence back to his property line rather than county property. He had already made his point: “The message has gotten across. Parents are posting and talking about it.” Well, yea, but they’re posting about this colossal jerk who lives in Sandston and shocks children waiting for a school bus.