Thursday, February 13, 2020

Judge Nealon of Lackawanna County Recites the Law of Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers

As noted in the case below, a plaintiff's ability to recover in a premises liability case may turn on whether that plaintiff is deemed to be a business inviteee, licensee, or a trespasser.

In the case of Giles v. Pennsylvania American Water Co., No. 17-CV-5616 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Jan. 23, 2020 Nealon, J.), the court addressed Preliminary Objections filed by a landowner Defendant in a case involving a minor Plaintiff who was allegedly injured as a result of a fall on the Defendant’s property surrounding a reservoir.

In his Opinion, Judge Terrence R. Nealon provided a detailed recitation of the current status of premises liability law and the issues of whether a Plaintiff may be deemed as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser under the care presented. In this matter, the issue appeared to center around whether the Plaintiff was a licensee or a trespasser.

Finding that the Plaintiff had alleged sufficient facts to get beyond a demurrer, the court denied the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections in this regard.

The court also denied the Preliminary Objections filed by the Defendant against the Plaintiff’s general allegations of reckless and willful conduct.

Judge Nealon once again ruled, as he has done on numerous occasions in the past, that such claims may be generally pled under the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

The court noted that, upon the completion of discovery, the Defendant could test the of the validity of the punitive damages claim by way of a Motion for Summary Judgment.

The court also noted that the Plaintiffs would not be able to obtain any financial wealth discovery against the Defendant under Pa. R.C.P. 4003.7 unless the Plaintiff first demonstrated a prima facie right to recover punitive damages under Pennsylvania law.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

If you need help bringing your premises liability case to close by way of a settlement at a Mediation, please do not hesitate to contact me to schedule a Mediation with Cummins Mediation.  I can be reached at or at 570-319-5899.

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