Premises Liability Appeal Against Shop Owner Challenges Invitee vs Licensee Status

Posted by Jeremy Rosenthal | Jan 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

Colorado cases of premises liability are often brought against business owners as a result of harm that occurs to individuals while on their property. There is often the need for the court to interpret the classification of the victim according to the three options: invitee, licensee, or trespasser. Most frequently, the interpretation centers on differentiating between licensee or invitee status, as is the case in this matter brought to a CO Appeals court.

Grizzell v. Hartman Enterprises

Kelly Grizzell, brought an action of premises liability against Hartman after her daughter was shot and killed by an intruder at Hartman's sandwich shop. An employee invited the victim into the shop shortly after the business closed that day. Next, the employee opened the rear door of the building and an unknown intruder entered, shooting and killing both of them. Ms. Grizzell initially alleged that the business owner was liable due to the victim's status as an invitee. She implied the owner had a duty to take reasonable action to protect patrons and business invitees from foreseeable criminal activity by usage of security on the premises.

Move for Dismissal

The Defendant unexpectedly moved for a dismissal contending a failure to state claim showing entitlement to relief. The Rules of Civil Procedure state that a complaint must have “a short statement indicating the pleader is entitled to relief”. All the facts supporting the claim need not be expressed, just simply to serve notice of the claim asserted. The reasoning was the parent failed to allege facts that the victim was an invitee, and lacked facts that owner breached his duty to the victim as an invitee or a licensee.

Invitee vs Licensee

Invitees are present to transact business for the mutual benefit of parties, or because the owner's represented that the public is welcome. The shop was closed with main entrance locked; therefore, the public was not welcome. The court also deemed the victim was not there to transact mutually beneficial business. A licensee is one on the land for their interests and includes social guests. Licensees may recover for damages by the owner's unreasonable failure to exercise care regarding dangers they created that they knew of; or, by owner's failure to warn of unusual dangers not created by the owner, that they were aware of.

Court Interpretation

The parent accepted the licensee status and asserted the presence of dangerous conditions. She alleged the owner was negligent by allowing for criminal activity known to exist with individuals entering the rear entrance completing drug transactions. The court found the owner was aware of the routine criminal activity, and the risks associated with such activity that occurred during and after store hours.

Premises Liability Attorney in Denver

Have you become a victim of the irresponsibility or negligence of a property owner while upon their land? The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal has assisted Colorado injury victims in their pursuit of justice by securing some of the largest verdicts and settlements on their behalf. Contact the office today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Jeremy Rosenthal

Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal is dedicated to helping his clients seek just compensation for their injuries regardless of the lengths he has to go to or the distances he may have to travel in order to get it.


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