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Woman did not breach duty to man injured while on property uninvited

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Summary judgment was properly awarded to the owner of lake-front residential property in a man’s lawsuit filed after he was seriously injured in a hammock accident while on her property uninvited, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

In Jeremy D. Mohr v. Virginia B. Smith Revocable Trust and Virginia B. Smith, as Trustee of the Virginia B. Smith Revocable Trust, 43A03-1306-CT-214, Grace College students Jeremy Mohr and Mallori Kastner entered property owned by the Virginia B. Smith Revocable Trust and controlled by Smith two nights in a row to sit on a hammock that was strung between two trees. The two went on Smith’s property without her knowledge or permission. Smith testified she knew the general public would occasionally come onto her property to look at the lake, sit on her pier or sit in the hammock, but she did not expressly invite anyone to do so and did not post “No Trespassing” signs.

On the second night Mohr and Kastner were on Smith’s property in the hammock, one of the trees supporting it fell, killing Kastner and seriously injuring Mohr. He sued, claiming he could recover from Smith under a theory of premises liability. The trial court ruled in favor of Smith, which the appellate judges upheld.

“The trial court properly determined that, at the time of the incident, Mohr was, at most, a licensee on Smith’s property,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote. “[W]e conclude that the designated evidence most favorable to Mohr demonstrates that Smith’s act of placing a hammock and a bench on her property overlooking the lake was insufficient to constitute an invitation for the public to enter Smith’s property. Although Smith was aware that members of the public would occasionally enter her property to view or access the lake, Smith did not invite the public to enter her land. Nothing in the record suggests that Smith desired, induced, encouraged, or expected the public to enter her property. She merely permitted the public to occasionally enter her land, so long as they did not cause any trouble. Again, mere permission, as distinguished from an invitation, is insufficient to transform a licensee into an invitee.”

The judges concluded that Mohr failed to designate any evidence that Smith had knowledge of the allegedly latent danger posed by the tree.

“Because undisputed evidence leads only to the inference that Smith did not have knowledge of the allegedly latent danger posed by the tree to which the hammock was attached, the trial court properly determined, as a matter of law, that Smith did not breach any duty owed to Mohr,” Bradford wrote.

 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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