on his land by whomever the trap was set, including nature.
E.g., Gaboury v. Ireland Road Grace Brethren, Inc., 446 N.E.2d
1310, 1314-15 (Ind. 1983); Keane v. Schroeder, 264 N.E.2d 95,
99-100 (Ind. App. 1970); Restatement (Second) of Torts § 342
(1965). (A “trap” for this purpose is merely a menace hidden
from the licensee or trespasser. E.g., Gaboury v. Ireland Road
Grace Brethren, Inc., supra, 446 N.E.2d at 1315; Harper v.
Kampschaefer, 549 N.E.2d 1067, 1070 (Ind. App. 1990); see
Taylor v. Duke, 713 N.E.2d 877, 881-82 (Ind. App. 1999).) And
failure to warn of a trap is a possible characterization of the
government’s behavior in this case. But the recreational-use
statute abrogates liability to trespassers and licensees unless
the landowner has acted with “malice.” So Matheny’s only
chance is to show that the government was guilty of
“malice” in failing to remove the pipe that injured her.
The district court closed this door by ruling that “malice”
means an act that is “malicious” in the ordinary meaning of
the word. In so ruling the court did not, because it
could not, rely on the Indiana courts’ interpretation of the
word as it appears in the recreational-use statute; there is no
judicial interpretation of it except in a previous district court
opinion, Reed v. United States, 604 F. Supp. 1253, 1261 (N.D.
Ind. 1984), which is not authoritative; district court opinions
do not have precedential authority. Old Republic Ins. Co. v.
Chuhak & Tecson, P.C., 84 F.3d 998, 1003 (7th Cir. 1996); Colby
v. J.C. Penney Co., 811 F.2d 1119, 1124 (7th Cir. 1987).
Unfortunately the word “malice” does not have a
settled meaning in law. Sometimes it means ill will, hatred,
“evil design,” or, in short, “malice” in its everyday sense.
Fryback v. State, 400 N.E.2d 1128, 1131 (Ind. 1980); Ford v.
State, 35 N.E. 34, 35 (Ind. App. 1893); Higgason v. Clark, 984
F.2d 203, 207 (7th Cir. 1993). But sometimes, as in defama-
tion law (also in criminal law), it means simply knowledge