Social Host Owes Minimal Duty of Care to Licensee on Property Versus Duty Owed to Invitee
Description Appeals court affirmed judgment for a property owner sued by high school student injured in a fight that occurred at a party held at another student's home. The host property owner must refrain from willful and wanton misconduct against such a guest, who is a licensee, not an invitee, who would be owed a higher duty of care.
Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words Premises Liability; Host; Invitee; Licensee
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Taylor attended a high school graduation party. He got into an altercation with the son of the homeowner and was struck by the son. Other guests also threw him into the swimming pool so that he would not strike the son back. He sued the homeowner for negligence in connection with his injuries. The trial court granted summary judgment to the homeowner. Taylor appealed.
Decision Affirmed. A social guest at a home in this situation is a licensee rather than an invitee for purposes of determining the duty of care owed by the homeowner. An invitee is on the owner's premises for a purpose mutually beneficial to both parties. A special relationship exists in such cases. The owner has a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect invitees from an unreasonable risk of harm caused by a dangerous condition on the property. A licensee is on the premises because of some personal unshared benefit and is merely tolerated on the premises by the owner. The social host is under no duty to make the premises safe other than to warn such a guest of concealed defects known to the owner and to refrain from willful and wanton misconduct that injures the guest. The failure to prevent the fight was not willful and wanton misconduct as there was no evidence that the owner had the ability and the means at hand to avoid the resulting harm.
Citation Taylor v. Laban, -N.W.2d - (2000 WL 772207, Ct. App., Mich., 2000)

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