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Khalil v. Gaber

A-3027-03T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2004) (Unpublished)

LANDOWNER’S LIABILITY—A social guest who is a frequent visitor to a home is presumed to have the same knowledge of the property’s condition as the owner.

A woman injured herself when she fell on a wet, metal outdoor staircase leading to her father’s apartment. She then sued her father. Her father argued that he was not required to warn her of the condition of the stairs since she was already familiar with its condition, having visited him on a regular basis prior to the day she was injured. The lower court agreed and granted the father’s motion for summary judgment. The scope of a landowner’s duty to a person is defined by that person’s status as a business visitor, social guest, or trespasser. The daughter acknowledged that she was a social guest. Therefore, her father was not required to provide greater safety for her than he would for himself. The Appellate Division noted that while there was a factual dispute about the frequency with which the daughter visited her father’s home, the lower court ascertained that the number of visits which the daughter acknowledged she had made were sufficient to provide her with the same knowledge of the property’s condition as possessed by her father. For that reason, the Court upheld the lower court’s grant of summary judgment.

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