A material fact is one having the potential to affect the outcome of the suit. A genuine issue of material fact exists when there is sufficient evidence to require a fact-finder to choose between competing versions of the truth at trial.
Defendant homeowner hired co-defendant construction company to build an oceanfront home. During construction, the homeowner lived in a cottage located 42 feet away from the site of the new house and he invited the plaintiff invitee and his family to join him for Easter dinner at his cottage. The invitee, accompanied by his adult son, went outside for a cigarette. As he smoked, the invitee walked in the direction of the new home. There were no lights on in the new home, and after walking 10 to 20 feet, the invitee fell 8 to 10 feet through an uncovered chimney hole, suffering injuries. Plaintiff unsuccessfully sued the homeowner and construction company for personal injuries but the court entered summary judgment in favor of defendants. On appeal, the court affirmed.
Did the material facts establish that plaintiff was invited for the limited purpose of having Easter dinner and he went beyond the scope of invitation by wandering off to the construction site?
The trial court properly found that the undisputed material facts established that the homeowner invited the invitee to the cottage and to the land immediately surrounding it for the limited purpose of having Easter dinner. The court agreed with the trial court's assessment that the invitee exceeded the scope of his invitation when he entered the construction site and, as a trespasser within the confines of the partially constructed house, neither the homeowner nor the construction company owed him a duty of reasonable care.