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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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  1. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

  2. As an adoptive parent, I have to say this situation was as shameful as it gets. While the state government opens its wallet to the Simons and their friends, it denied payments to the most vulnerable in our state. Thanks Mitch!

  3. We as lawyers who have given up the range of First amendment freedom that other people possess, so that we can have a license to practice in the courts of the state and make gobs of money, that we agree to combat the hateful and bigoted discrimination enshrined in the law by democratic majorities, that Law Lord Posner has graciously explained for us....... We must now unhesitatingly condemn the sincerely held religious beliefs of religiously observant Catholics, Muslims, Christians, and Jewish persons alike who yet adhere to Scriptural exhortations concerning sodomites and catamites..... No tolerance will be extended to intolerance, and we must hate the haters most zealously! And in our public explanations of this constitutional garbledygook, when doing the balancing act, we must remember that the state always pushes its finger down on the individualism side of the scale at every turn and at every juncture no matter what the cost to society.....to elevate the values of a minority over the values of the majority is now the defining feature of American "Democracy..." we must remember our role in tricking Americans to think that this is desirable in spite of their own democratically expressed values being trashed. As a secular republic the United States might as well be officially atheist, religious people are now all bigots and will soon be treated with the same contempt that kluckers were in recent times..... The most important thing is that any source of moral authority besides the state be absolutely crushed.

  4. In my recent article in Indiana Lawyer, I noted that grass roots marketing -- reaching out and touching people -- is still one of the best forms of advertising today. It's often forgotten in the midst of all of today's "newer wave" marketing techniques. Shaking hands and kissing babies is what politicians have done for year and it still works. These are perfect examples of building goodwill. Kudos to these firms. Make "grass roots" an essential part of your marketing plan. Jon Quick QPRmarketing.com

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