Law School Case Brief
Jones v. Hansen - 254 Kan. 499, 867 P.2d 303 (1994)
In applying the duty of reasonable care under all the circumstances to licensees as well as invitees, the court is mindful that Kansas has recognized that there are limits to reasonable care. For example, a business proprietor has a duty to use ordinary care to keep those portions of the premises which can be expected to be used by business invitees in a reasonably safe condition. However, a proprietor or operator of a trade or business is not an absolute insurer of the safety of the customers.
Plaintiff Jones filed a premises liability negligence action against defendant homeowners after she fell down a flight of stairs in their home. The trial court granted the homeowners' motion for summary judgment on the ground that the homeowners' only duty owed to the guest was to refrain from willfully, wantonly, or recklessly injuring her. She appealed. On appeal, she specifically requested that the court change the law and adopt a standard of reasonable care under all the circumstances. Under the law then in effect the duty owed to an entrant upon property was dependent on the status of the entrant.
Could defendant homeowners be held liable for the injury incurred by the plaintiff even if it did not arise from their reckless and willful acts?
The appellate court held that limiting the duty to the status of the entrant was no longer appropriate in a modern society. It specifically abolished all classes of entrant with the exception of trespassers and held the duty owed to any entrant except a trespasser was one of reasonable care. The appellate court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Having established the new law and that the duty owed to an entrant by the owner or occupier of the premises was not characterized by the status of the entrant, the appellate court held the new law applied prospectively with the exception of the action filed by the guest against the homeowners.
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