Monday, April 11, 2016

Trespasser vs. Licensee Issue in Trip and Fall Case Left for Jury to Decide


In the premises liability slip and fall case of Heuring v. Ringmaker, PICS Case No. 16-0297 (C.P. Monroe Co. Nov. 16, 2015 Harlacher Sibum, J.), the court addressed duties owed to a trespasser and/or a licensee in a trip and fall case.  

According to the Opinion, this matter arose out a slip and fall and the Defendant asserted that the Plaintiff was a trespasser on the premises at the time of the incident.   According to the Opinion, the lease allowed the landlord to elect to treat a tenant as a trespasser, tenant by sufferance or as a holdover tenant in the event that the tenant remains in possession after a lease expiration.  

When a Plaintiff failed to vacate the premises at the end of a lease, the landlord began proceedings to have the Plaintiff vacate the premises.   During the course of these proceedings, the Plaintiff slipped and fell while on the premises.  

An issue arose over whether or not the landlord consented for the Plaintiff to remain in possession of the premises during the course of the eviction proceedings.   As such, the issue is whether or not the Plaintiff was a trespasser or a licensee at the time of the incident.  


Judge Jennifer Harlacher Sibum
Monroe County
 
Judge Harlacher Sibum ruled that the question presented was a jury issue and required a factual determination as to whether or not consent was given for the Plaintiff to remain on the premises up to the time of the slip and fall incident.  
The court also found in favor of the Plaintiff on the Defendant’s claims that the Plaintiff.t failed to allege willful and wanton conduct in the Complaint.  The court found that such allegations were within the allegations of negligence and recklessness pled by the Plaintiff.

Overall, the court denied the Defendant landlord’s Motion for Summary Judgment on the issues presented.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may email me at dancummins@comcast.net.
   

 

Source:  “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (March 15, 2016).

 

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