Legal responsibility question

As a geocacher, I frequently visit the forums of Groundspeak (the generally accepted governing body). A question came up wondering if a particular cache was too dangerous.

Of course this quickly devolved into a discussion of a cache owners legal responsibility if a geocacher got hurt while attempting to find a “dangerous” placing. There are no legal types involved in that discussion so I thought I’d ask here.

Someone said

Disclaimer on cache

So armchair legal-eagles and registered bards alike, what say you?

Link to thread.
Link to cache.

Note: I’m not going to take this info there or post a link there to here. Just want to satisfy my own curiosity. Thanks.

ETA: I’m not asking for legal advice, information gained for entertainment purposes only!
[sup]Not sure if this belong here or in GD[/sup]

I get that I have to be a premium member to see the cache info. Maybe you could describe it a little more?

Having not read the linked threads and not knowing anything about law…my WAG is that it isn’t the owners problem. From what you quoted the cache owner came out and said that it was in a treacherous location, then even went on to say that he advises people not to try and get it, and then, he went even further to say don’t take the short route because it’s dangerous, go the long way which is much safer.
It seems like he should be in the clear…on top of everything else, if I understand geocaching correctly it all comes down to “Hey, I hid something, you can go and find it if you want” so no one HAS to go and get this, no one is being forced to get it etc… I don’t see why it would be the owners problem especially considering the disclaimer he included.

Let’s change some parameters. If I make a post on a message board that says the following “Hi everyone, I put a box with a surprise in it on the boulevard in the intersection of 3rd and Main st, I’m not saying you should go and get it, but it might be fun to see what’s in it…BTW, make sure you wait for the walk signal” and someone goes and darts in to traffic and gets hit by a car, or for that matter, trips off the curb and breaks an ankle, would that be my problem? I wouldn’t think it would be.

Oops sorry, I didn’t notice this was a premium member cache only. The cache is located in a state park. (One way) to reach this cache would be to walk across a fallen redwood that crosses a deep canyon. It’s wide enough to walk across but a fall could be deadly. People cross this log frequently anyway, I understand.

Here is a pic I grabbed from the cache page of someone crossing the log.

I can’t see the link to the cache - would it be possible for someone to get the instructions or location without seeing the warning? Is the warning obvious and likely to be read? How likely is it that the reader will be under 18 or not a native English speaker? I don’t know anything about the culture of geocaching, but it’s hard to know how the “I implore you to put this one on ignore” is to be interpreted - it sounds more like a dare than a warning.

I’m also a geocacher, and have been following this thread the past couple of days.

Sidney Evgeni Jordan - You COULD get the location without seeing the instructions; one can create a search for all caches meeting X, Y, and Z paramaters within a certain radius, and then just download all the coordinates without reading the entries on them. However, anyone with even the tiniest bit of experience in doing caches that are in parks knows this is a bad idea. Reading the information page generally lets you know where parking is, which trail to take, etc.

The warning is obvious and likely to be read - as far as the culture of geocaching, yes, this is more of a dare than a warning. Although the dificulty is rated at terain 5 (the hardest), which certainly screams “Requires further reading!” to me. But, again, you CAN create a serch and NOT pay attention to those things.

The likelyhood of the reader being under 18 or not a native English speaker is hard to determine. The cache is in Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California. People looking to do this cache would be people who are going to be visiting the park, so… I’d say it’s a small but non-zero chance.

Aditional information - the cache’s attributes include no kids, no dogs, significant hike, and dangerous area. So, there’s a lot of information provided here, IMO.

It depends on state law, which varies a lot in the area of landowner liability. I can see an argument that the cache is an “attractive nuisance” – that is, a thing on the land, not natural to the land, that is both dangerous and naturally attracts the curious, particularly children who do not perceive the danger. Landowners have a duty to mitigate the danger of an attractive nuisance by physically preventing unauthorized access (either removing it or securely fencing it off). But it isn’t the “typical” situation of an attractive nuisance, which are usually things like pools, dangerously polluted catchponds, and unsecured heavy machinery, that actually belong to the owner. Sounds like a great law journal article for someone!

On the other hand, when the risk is obvious to the reasonable adult, the person who forges forward anyway and is injured, is said in some states to have “assumed the risk” of the dangerous activity leaving the landowner free of liability. (the glorious and amusing case of Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusements is the seminal case on assumption of the risk).

I can also see any problem involving this cache leading the state park to ban all geocaching. Why risk it?

Groundspeak is not the governing body. There is no governing body. Geocaching is a free for all and there are many sites around the world that list geocaches which do not have the same restrictions on listing that Groundspeak do.

However, Groundspeak is a for profit business so I would fully expect that if someone saw that cache and decided to do it, then got injured they should have recourse against Groundspeak for failing to take into account any safety aspects of the listing on their site.

The mere fact of listing the geocache makes them accountable for any situation that occurs as a result of someone using their website, following their guidelines to find a geocache.

Groundspeak may put up a disclaimer saying they are only a listing site, but if the cache is placed in a hazardous manner they should take accountability for the level of danger. If they won’t take accountability they should not permit the cache to be listed.

I like the assumption of the risk argument to any liability.anyone that looks at the log would have to percieve the danger. Their decision to proceed anyway absolves the geocacher of liability.

I’m talking about the liability of the state park (owner of the land, not the cache) to abate known dangerous conditions artificial to the land and attractive to children. I really have no idea if this could or would apply, in this state and on this defendant. But it’s a different issue than the liability of the person who left the cache.

I wonder what “known” means in this context. I think the cache is hidden by an individual geocacher as part of the game, and then the coordinates are listed on the Groundspeak website. I’m not sure the state park even knows that the cache is hidden there.

Also, does assumption of risk apply if a minor is injured while trying to find the cache? The page describing the cache is apparently marked “no kids” and “dangerous area,” but someone could get the coordinates of the cache without even reading the warning or the other instructions.

It isn’t the Arc de Triomphe’s fault if you’re a moron and try to run the Place d’Etoile instead of going through the underground access.

Does the Arc de Triomphe’s website have a picture of someone smiling while they run the Place d’Etoile? Does the website tell you it’s difficult to do, but dare you to do it anyway?

Hello Again–yeah, we’ve got discussions of the liability of the geocacher, the website, and the landowner all mashed up together.

I really think the geocacher has no liability here because of the assumption of the risk argument. Here’s an example–if I were to post a thread saying “I bet no one can climb up the outside of the Empire State building” I wouldn’t be liable if someone did it. The geocacher has arguably done more than just that, but I don’t think the distinction should make a difference.

I haven’t thought much about the website. But if the individual geocacher isn’t liable, then I find it hard for the website to be liable.

For the landowner, I think attractive nuisance theories work only if the landowner is aware (or reasonably should be aware) of the condition. I don’t know where I come out on that–I don’t know enough about geocaching abd the parks’ responses.

Note, all of the above is based on my general ideas about the state of the common law in a hypothetical jurisdiction, so actual statutes (and other people’s general ideas) may vary.

Rand Rover - Since in this case the landowner is a state park, I doubt they’d be held responsible. People are injured and die at state and national parks every year, usually for doing unsafe things, but the parks don’t generally get sued.

Assuming it’s not the cache owner’s land, as in this case, they have no liability. Responsibility, in the ethical sense? Sure.

I don’t know about the legal responsibility of Groundspeak (the company that maintains the website), but it bothers me that a kid might get hurt while trying to find the cache in the OP. And I’m really not an oh-no-think-of-the-children kind of parent.

The cache is in a state park that allows camping, so kids could have access to the site during a family vacation or scout trip. Apparently, kids do geocaching - there are even Geomate Jr. GPS units for sale on the website. That video features some kids under 10, although that particular device can’t be used to locate the terrain level 5 caches such as this one (it does levels 1-4). The point is, though, that a kid could use their website to find the coordinates for the cache listed in the OP, and then use any other GPS to find the cache. Based on our inability to see the cache in the OP, I believe there is a pay subscription requirement to see the level 5 caches, but I don’t know how much of a barrier that really is for a motivated kid (or someone with a family subscription).

Of course it is up to PARENTS to supervise their kids, but I personally think it’s irresponsible for the cache instructions to include a “warning” that is really a dare, and a picture of someone happily doing the activity that is being warned against, when geocaching up to level 4 is being promoted for kids.