Bradley v. Sobolewsky

In Bradley v. Sobolewsky, 91 Conn. 492, 99 A. 1067 (Conn. 1917), the Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut dealt with the theory of "express license." Edwin Bradley, an employee of the New Haven Gaslight Company, was sent by his employer to Vincent Sobolewsky's home to check a gas range which was supposedly out of order. Unfortunately, Bradley was sent to the wrong house and, as he approached the back door via a path leading from the front gate, he was attacked by Sobolewsky's dog. The trial judge ruled in favor of Sobolewsky finding Bradley was committing a trespass when he was bitten by the dog. The appellate court reversed and ordered a new trial concluding Bradley was not a trespasser but was on the premises by virtue of an "express license." 99 A. at 1068. Sobolewsky had signed a service contract with the gas company which allowed its employees access for the purpose of examining its gas piping and apparatus. The court determined: "We think it is clear that the plaintiff was at the time of the injury acting as the agent of the gas company authorized to examine gas apparatus on the defendant's premises. It is true that the authority afterwards appeared to have been given to him as the result of a mistake; but the mistake was made by the company in directing the plaintiff to the wrong place, and not by the plaintiff in going to a place to which he was not authorized to go. In going to the defendant's premises, he went precisely where the gas company told him to go and for a purpose for which the defendant had agreed that the authorized agent of the company might come." Bradley, 99 A. at 1068. Even though Bradley was incorrect in entering Sobolewsky's yard for the express purpose of repairing a gas range, he otherwise had the implied invitation to come on the premises anyway. The duty of care owed invitees can flow from any person or entity that has control over the property. The party in control of the premises, however, is not an insurer of the worker's safety.