Meaghan C. Bryan obtains summary judgment in premises liability suit based on the trespasser doctrine
Meaghan C. Bryan obtained a dismissal of all claims against her client, a plumbing subcontractor, in a personal injury suit arising out of an ongoing residential construction site. The plaintiff and her husband had gone on an evening walk around their affluent Lake Minnetonka neighborhood and chose to enter and explore an active residential construction site under the control of a general contractor with whom they had a prior personal/family relationship. There were no workers onsite, it was after-hours, and there were not any “no trespass” signs or fencing blocking the site off. The plaintiff entered the home and fell down the unfinished stairwell opening onto the basement ground below, sustaining very serious injuries. In bringing suit, the plaintiffs argued that they had express and implied consent to enter the property because of their prior relationship with the general contractor and his prior knowledge that they sometimes “Went through his homes.” Bryan moved for summary judgment on the basis that no duty was owed to the plaintiffs because they were trespassers, they had no express or implied consent to enter the property, and there was no notice to the possessors (owner, general contractor, and subcontractors) that trespassers were constantly intruding upon this particular construction site. The Court agreed with the defense and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against all of the defendants, including the property owner, general contractor, and all subcontractors.