An invitee is one who is either expressly or impliedly invited onto the premises of another in connection with the business carried on by that other. If one goes into a store with the view of then, or at some other time, doing some business with the store, he is an invitee. The implied invitation of the storekeeper is broad enough to include one who enters a general store with a vague purpose of buying if she sees anything that strikes her fancy. Of course, if it appears a person had no intention of presently or in the future becoming a customer he could not be held to be an invitee, as there would be no basis for any thought of mutual benefit.
A customer of a cigar and lunch shop was injured as the result of falling down on an open trap door on the way to the restroom. He filed a case for damages against the operator of the lunch shop, the owner of the building, and the manager of the building. A demurrer was filed by the defendants and granted by the trial court. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Kansas.
Was the customer entitled to damages?
The court found that the customer was an invitee at all times. The court rejected the operator's argument that the customer lost his status as an invitee simply because he had not made a purchase prior to his injury on the single occasion. The court also noted that there was a box directly in front of the hole which obstructed the customers view. The court stated the rule that a storekeeper who placed racks of merchandise about a railing view of customers was negligent. However, with respect to the owner of the building and the building manager, the court found no actionable negligence. The court found a landlord was not liable where the intervening act or acts of the tenant over which the landlord had no control constituted the procuring cause of the injury.