Law School Case Brief
Nicoletti v. Westcor, Inc. - 131 Ariz. 140, 639 P.2d 330 (1982)
The landowner owes a special duty to an invitee, but this duty may be diluted or extinguished if the invitee engages in explicitly or impliedly nonpermitted activities or goes beyond the area to which he or she is invited.
As had been the practice in previous years, in November, 1976, Metrocenter employees received notice from their respective employers to discontinue parking in the immediate parking facilities and received maps indicating the temporary parking lots. On the night of the accident, appellant left Rhodes with two co-employees and set out directly across the parking lot in a direct route toward their vehicles. A raised planter lay in appellant's path. Appellant tangled her feet in the bushes and had fallen, striking her hand and side. Some 30 days later appellant determined the accident must have been caused by a wire. Thereafter, appellant filed a suit against appellee for her personal injuries. After discovery, the trial court granted appellee's motion for summary judgment. Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal.
Was the landowner liable to the appellant for the injury sustained by the latter?
The Court held that the employee was a business invitee at the time of the accident and that she went beyond the scope of her invitation. According to the Court, the employee knew or should have known of the illuminated sidewalks providing egress to the temporary parking lot. The Court averred that the owner did not have a duty to maintain the decorative planter of dense foliage so that adult employees could safely walk through the greenery to jaywalk across a busy parkway. The Court posited that a reasonable person could not have thought the planter was an appropriate means of egress from the property nor had the owner misled the employee into a reasonable belief that it was a proper passageway. In conclusion, the Court held that the employee did not establish that there existed a genuine dispute as to any material or that the shopping center owner had a duty to maintain the planter for safe ingress and egress.
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