Premises liability duties and standards of care; licensees; invitees

Plaintiff, however, insists her [**8]  cause of action is only for premises liability for a dangerous condition. Presumably, she wishes to have the benefit of HN7the higher legal duty of care owed to a business "invitee" which is applicable in a premises liability action. See Carter v. Kinney, 896 S.W.2d 926, 928 (Mo. banc 1995). HN8In an ordinary negligence action, the applicable duty is the somewhat lower duty to exercise ordinary care.

 

In order to make a submissible case for premises liability, the plaintiff had to show that the defendant knew, or by using ordinary care could have known, of the dangerous condition and failed to use ordinary care to remove it, barricade it, or warn of it, and that, as a direct result of such failure, plaintiff sustained damage. In determining whether the plaintiff made a submissible case, a court considers the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, giving him the benefit of all reasonable inferences. A defendant's evidence is not considered except as it may aid the plaintiff. A plaintiff may prove essential facts by circumstantial evidence.

 

Social guests are but a subclass of licensees. The fact that an invitation underlies a visit does not render the visitor an invitee for purposes of premises liability law. The status of invitee arises in two situations: where the invitation was rendered with a material benefit motive, or where the invitation was extended to the public generally or to some undefined portion of the public.   Cook v. Smith, 33 S.W.3d 548 

 

[In this case, a contractor fell from a ladder after stepping on a dog’s paw.  Important point is that the homeowners and contractor stipulated that the contractor was an invitee.] Savory v. Hensick, 143 S.W.3d 712

 

A landowner has a duty to use reasonable and ordinary care to prevent injuries to an invitee on the landowner's premises. A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm caused to his invitees by a condition on the land if, but only if, he (a) knows or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover the condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such invitees, and (b) should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it, and (c) fails to exercise reasonable care to protect them against the danger.

 

Strict liability (liability without fault) applies to seller of product that is defective or hazardous which unduly threatens a consumer’s personal safety.    See Black’s.