Does An Owner-Occupier Have the Duty of Insuring the Safety of An Invitee on His Property ?
A negligence claim requires a showing by the plaintiff that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, the defendant breached this duty, and such breach by the defendant was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injury. Texler v. D.O. Summers Cleaners (1998), 81 Ohio St. 3d 677, 680, 693 N.E.2d 271.
A duty on the part of the premises owner-occupier depends upon the foreseeability of the injury. Id.
A property owner-occupier is not an insurer of an invitee's safety, Paschal v. Rite Aid Pharmacy, Inc. (1985), 18 Ohio St. 3d 203, 480 N.E.2d 474, but must exercise ordinary care to protect the invitee by maintaining the premises in a safe condition. Light v. Ohio University (1986), 28 Ohio St. 3d 66, 68, 502 N.E.2d 611. Therefore, liability on the part of the defendant does not arise by the mere fact that the plaintiff was injured on the defendant's property.
The Ohio Supreme Court has held that the owner-occupier of the premises owes no duty to invitees against conditions which are so obvious, apparent, or commonly encountered that an invitee could reasonably be expected to discover and protect himself against them. Sidle v. Humphrey (1968), 13 Ohio St. 2d 45, 49, 233 N.E.2d 589; Simmers v. Bentley Constr. Co. (1992), 64 Ohio St. 3d 642, 644, 597 N.E.2d 504; and Paschal, supra.
However, the owner-occupier must "warn his invitees of latent or concealed perils of which he has, or reasonably should have, knowledge." Perry v. Eastgreen Realty Co. (1978), 53 Ohio St. 2d 51, 52, 372 N.E.2d 335.
This duty includes situations in which the original construction of the building creates a dangerous condition. Id. at 53.
Despite this duty to warn invitees of latent or concealed perils, the use of slippery land/or smooth tile on the floor of a building without a warning to those who traverse the floor does not, in and of itself constitute negligence. Thomas v. Merchants Nat. Bank (1952), 65 Ohio L. Abs. 353, 114 N.E.2d 863, 865.