Younce v. Ferguson

106 Wash. 2d 658, 724 P.2d 991



A licensee is defined as a person who is privileged to enter or remain on land only by virtue of the possessor's consent. A licensee includes a social guest, that is, a person who has been invited but does not meet the legal definition of invitee. The standard of care owed to licensees is a duty to exercise reasonable care toward them where there is a known dangerous condition on the property which the possessor can reasonably anticipate the licensee will not discover or will fail to realize the risks involved. 


Plaintiff attended a party on defendants’ property, hosted by defendants’ son. At the party, plaintiff paid a sum of money, which was used to buy alcohol and other party goods. Defendants did not have any knowledge of the party, or of their son’s intention to buy alcohol. At the party, plaintiff was hit by a drunk driver and injured. Plaintiff sued, and the court ruled that because she was merely a licensee, that the owners owed her a duty of ordinary care, and that they had afforded her that duty. Plaintiff appeals from this ruling


Whether the defendants can be held liable for plaintiff’s injuries.


No, defendants cannot be held liable for plaintiff’s injuries.


In affirming the lower court’s ruling, the Court held that because Washington still had the licensee/invitee distinction, and she did not fall into the invitee category, that she was merely owed a duty of ordinary care. Defendants afforded this by ensuring that nothing dangerous was on the property (to their knowledge).

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