Trespasser v. Invitee To Be or Not To Be

In Skoglund v. Neste Development the Court of appeals addressed the question if Skoglund (a business invitee) exceeded the scope of her invitation by engaging in an alleged unpermitted activity.

In short, Skoglund was a member of Gold’s Gym.  She attempted to change the channel on a tv by stepping on a barbell rack to change the channel on the tv.  The tv mount did not hold and it fell on Skoglund.  The trial court determined that as a matter of law, that Mrs. Skoglund exceed the scope of her business invitee status, and became a trespasser, thus the gym owed her a lesser duty of care.

The first issue addressed by the Court was whether an individual’s status as business invitee, licensee or trespasser is a question of fact for the jury to decide and NOT a question of law.  This includes whether an invitee’s actions changes their status to that of a trespasser.  Meaning if there is an issue as to the status of the injured person, the parties are likely bound for trial.

As related to the Skoglund case, the Court held that there was a material issue of fact regarding whether she engaged in an unpermitted activity when she attempted to access the tv by stepping on the dumbbell rack and whether attempting to change the tv by stepping on the dumbbell rack changed her status from that of invitee to a licensee or trespasser.