Sunday, March 24, 2013

Nelson v. Freeland case brief

Nelson v. Freeland case brief summary
507 S.E.2d 882 (N.C. 1998)

SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff injured person filed a negligence action against defendants, landowner and his wife, after tripping and falling at their home. The injured person sought damages for the injuries that he sustained in the fall. The trial court granted summary judgment for the landowner and his wife, and the Court of Appeals (North Carolina) affirmed. The injured person appealed.

-The landowner requested that the injured person pick him up at his house for a business meeting that the two were attending, and the injured person tripped over a stick that the landowner had inadvertently left lying on his porch.
-The issues arising out of the case were whether the landowner's act of leaving a stick on his porch constituted negligence and whether the injured person was entitled to a jury trial.
-The state law at the time of the accident was that the standard of care that a landowner owed to persons entering upon his land depended upon the entrant's status as to whether the entrant was a licensee, invitee, or trespasser.

The court held that the injured person was entitled to a trial at which the jury was to have been instructed under the new rule adopted by the court.

The court adopted a new rule in premises-liability cases, requiring a standard of reasonable care toward all lawful visitors and eliminating the distinction between licensees and invitees. The court retained a separate classification for trespassers. The court found that the new rule was to have been applied retroactively.

OUTCOME: The court reversed the appellate court's judgment that affirmed summary judgment in favor of the landowner and his wife. The case was remanded to the appellate court for further remand to the trial court.

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