South-Western Legal Studies in Business

If Licensee Has Knowledge of Dangerous Condition on Premises, Licensor Not Liable for Injury Suffered
Description Texas high court held that when a contract worker, a licensee, was injured when he fell on a flight of stairs in a store, the store owner, the licensor, had no special duty to him so long as the dangerous condition that caused the injury was known to the licensee.
Topic Torts
Key Words Premises Liability; Negligence; Slip and Fall; Licensee; Knowledge of Condition
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Brian Miller worked for a plumbing company that was installing an eyewash machine at a Wal-Mart store. Miller and another worker were escorted by a Wal-Mart employee to the back of the store where the water lines and valves were located. A stairway they had to use was partly covered with boxes, and they all commented that the stairs were rather slippery. Miller fell when he was coming down the stairs and suffered injuries. A jury found Wal-Mart 70% negligent and Miller 30% negligent and awarded damages. The trial judge set aside the verdict. The court of appeals reversed for Miller. Wal-Mart appealed.
Decision

Reversed. Miller was a licensee while in the store. If a licensee has the same knowledge about a dangerous condition, as does the licensor, then no duty to the licensee exists. The only duty would be not to injure him by willful, wanton or gross negligence. Miller had actual knowledge of the stairway’s dangerous condition, precluding a recovery based on a defect claim. He was aware of the boxes on the stairway and aware that the steps were somewhat slippery.

Citation Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Miller, 102 S.W.3d 706 (Sup. Ct., Tex., 2003)

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