Monday, February 6, 2017

Pennsylvania Superior Court Holds that Landowners Do Not Have a Duty To Protect Invitees Against Dangers on Adjoining Roadways

In its recent decision in the case of Newell v. Montana West, 2017 Pa. Super. 15 (Pa. Super. Jan. 19, 2017 Bowes, J., Ott, J., Solano, J.) (Op. by Solano, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that, in a case first impression before this Court, that a business does not have a duty to protect its invitees against the dangers associated with adjoining roadways.  

This matter rose out of an incident during which the Plaintiff’s decedent was struck and killed by a car after he left a show at a music venue.  

The court ruled that a pedestrian who walks on a public highway places himself at risk of injury from vehicles traveling on the highway.   The duty of care owed to that pedestrian was found to rest with those who maintain the road and those motorists who travel upon the roadway.   The court ruled that the “duty does not extend to the landowners who has premises adjacent to the roadway.”  

In so ruling, the Newell court relied, in part, on a prior decision of the Commonwealth Court in the case of Allen v. Mellinger, 625 A.2d 1326 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1993), appeal denied, 644 A.2d 738 (Pa. 1994), in which that court held that the owners of premises abutting state highways are not liable to pedestrians or motorists injured on those highways.  

Notably, despite the rule against citing non-precedential Opinions from the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the Newell court referred to one of its non-precedential Opinions involving a case with nearly identical facts.  

In upholding the trial court’s decision that no duty was owed to the Plaintiff’s decedent by the adjoining landowner, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the entry of summary judgment.  

Anyone wishing to review this case may click this LINK.

Source:  Article: "Duty to Protect Patrons Does Not Extend to Roadway Dangers" by Max Mitchell of the Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Jan. 27, 2017)

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