Torts II, Pages 517–518

Whelan v. Van Natta

Court of Appeals of Kentucky, June 26, 1964

Facts:

Plaintiff came into defendant's grocery store, bought some cigarettes, and asked about a box for his son. Defendant told his to go into the backroom to find some. Plaintiff went into the dark room to find one and fell down the stairs therein. Defendant said the light had been on that morning.

Procedural History:

Trial court gave judgment for defendant, holding him to be a licensee at the time of his fall.

Issue:

Did defendant become a licensee after making his purchase and going to look for a box?

Plaintiff's Argument:

Plaintiff entered store on business and thus was an invitee.

Rules:

  • LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoJustia LogoPage 517, Paragraph 5

    Thus an invitee ceases to be an invitee after the expiration of a reasonable time within which to accomplish the purpose for which he is invited to enter, or to remain.

  • LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoJustia LogoPage 517, Paragraph 6

    Likewise, the visitor has the status of an invitee only while he is on the part of the land to which his invitation extends—or in other words, the part of the land upon which the possessor gives him reason to believe that his presence is desired for the purpose for which he has come.

Reasoning:

Plaintiff did not go into the backroom as part of his shopping, so he became a licensee when he did so. Defendant is therefore not liable for plaintiff's injuries, as it was not an "intentional or willful act endangering his safety."

Holding:

Yes, plaintiff became a licensee when he went to look for a box. Affirmed.


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