Whelan v. Van Natta Case Brief

Summary of Whelan v. Van Natta (1964), Ct of Appeals KY

Facts: P entered D’s store to buy cigarettes. When he asked for an additional box for his son, the shopkeeper, who was other wise occupied, told him to go into the back room and look around for them. The customer, or invitee, did so and fell into a stair well causing injury. BTW…the shopkeeper testified that he never warned the customer of the existence of a stair well, but believed the area to have been well lit.

Issue: Did the appellant’s status change from invitee to licensee when he moved from the main store tom the storage area? Yes

Procedure: TC holds for D. Ct of appeals affirms.

Law: When a person who enters as an invitee goes outside his area of invitation, he becomes either a trespasser or a licensee depending on the owner’s interpretation.

Rationale: Status changed from invitee to licensee as the customer left the part of the building and entered that which was considered part of the shopkeeper’s home. At this point, D was basically a house guest.

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