Pagelsdorf v. Safeco Ins. Co.

91 Wis. 2d 734, 284 N.W.2d 55 (1979)

 

RULE:

A landlord is under a duty to exercise ordinary care in the maintenance of the premises.

FACTS:

A tenant's invitee sued landlord for failure to warn of the condition of a porch railing which gave way and caused injury. Jury returned verdict for landlord and invitee appealed, contending the court erred in jury instructions that a possessor of property had no duty to licensee to discover dangers of which he was not aware. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

ISSUE:

Did the landlord have a responsibility to maintain the premises?

ANSWER:

Yes

CONCLUSION:

The court held that the distinctions between duty of care owed to licensees and invitees had been abolished prospectively in 1975, and that under current law landlords owed anyone on premises with consent a duty of ordinary care. In this case, the court went further and held that landlord was under a duty to exercise ordinary care in the maintenance of the premises and remanded to trial court. The court considered whether this holding was unfair in light of the prospective operation of prior rule, but held rules were distinguishable and application of new standard operated retrospectively.

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