A social guest, as a licensee, generally must take the premises of his host as he finds them. However, the owner of the premises has a duty to warn the licensee of any hidden dangers which are unknown to his guest, of which he, the owner, has knowledge, and to refrain from injuring his guest willfully or wantonly.
Plaintiff was attacked by defendant’s son while in defendant’s home to discuss business. Plaintiff sued defendants after he was stabbed by the defendant’s son, alleging that defendants, as landowners, were negligent in failing to protect plaintiff, as an invitee, from a dangerous condition on the premises. The dangerous condition referred to the son’s mental illness. The trial court directed a verdict in favor of defendants and plaintiff appealed.
Is the plaintiff considered an invitee, and was there a special duty to warn him about the son’s mental health issues?
No and no.
The court found plaintiff’s status as the time of the incident was that of a licensee-social guest and thus, the only duty owed to plaintiff by defendant's was to warn plaintiff of hidden dangers unknown to plaintiff of which the defendants had knowledge. Defendant’s son’s past violent behavior did not qualify as a hidden danger as ten years since the son had last exhibited violent behavior and because the son and plaintiff had previous physical contract. The judgment of the trial court was affirmed.