Last August, late at night, in Clarksville, Indiana, three young friends decided to walk on a railroad bridge, high over the "Falls of the Ohio" park.
Two youths walked in the center of the bridge, on the wooden railroad ties. Their friend, Jesse Middleton, walked on metal grates, near the edge of the tracks.
Suddenly a metal grate gave way, and Middleton plunged 100 feet to the riverbed below, landing face down in water. He was dead by the time help reached him, .
There were signs posted on the bridge warning "No Trespassing".
The NY Court of Appeals, in a 1976 case, Basso v. Miller, set the still current standard for premises liability cases, by scrapping the "old" three-classification system, for trespassers, guests and business invitees, affording each group a different duty owed.
The Court "abandoned the classifications entirely and announced our adherence to the single standard of reasonable care under the circumstances whereby foreseeability shall be a measure of liability".
If New York law applied to this case, forseeability would be the "measure of liability". Did the railroad company know that trespassers regularly walked on the bridge? Did it think that warning signs would dissuade people from walking over it? Should fencing have been installed? Should the bridge have been inspected for pedestrian safety?
From the article about this incident, it appears that the bridge was used regularly by young people as a place to hang out, and had been for years.
It also reported that Middleton had taken two unprescribed "Lortabs" earlier that day. Maybe the three friends had been drinking on that summer night?
The Basso court continued: "Contributory and, now, comparative negligence, as well as assumption of the risk, all fit into their respective places, to be invoked when appropriate".
Did the three friends assume the risk of walking on a high bridge?
Without more information, one cannot determine if a viable cause of action for wrongful death exists in this case.