Will An Employee's Friend Be Considered a Licensee or Invitee If She Sustains Injury at the Hotel ?

In Carpenter v. Columbus Motor Lodge, Inc. (1990), 67 Ohio App.3d 589, 587 N.E.2d 916, the hotel had a policy of letting its employees and their guests use the pool facilities. The plaintiff was a friend of a hotel employee's spouse, and was injured when she ran through a plate glass door at the hotel. 67 Ohio App.3d at 591. At the time, the plaintiff was at the hotel with the employee's spouse, and was running toward the pool building. In considering whether the plaintiff was an invitee or licensee, the Tenth District Court of Appeals noted that the Ohio Supreme Court had recently concluded that "the type of benefit conferred by a business invitee upon the owner or occupier of land must take some tangible form, whether economic or otherwise." Id. at 593, citing Provencher v. Ohio Dept. of Transp. (1990), 49 Ohio St.3d 265, 266-267, 551 N.E.2d 1257, and fn. 1. The plaintiff in Carpenter claimed that such an economic benefit existed because the hotel encouraged the plaintiff's presence in order to entice other guests to use the pool. However, the Tenth District disagreed, noting that: "The only evidence presented by plaintiff to support a finding that her presence conferred a benefit upon the hotel was the affidavit of the hotel employee at whose invitation she was using the pool. That affidavit indicates that the hotel policy regarding pool use by friends and family of hotel employees was promulgated only for purposes of maintaining employee morale. The affidavit indicates the benefit was conferred upon the employee, and not the hotel, and consisted only of the ability of the employee to visit with friends and family during working hours. Under the facts of this case, which involves an injury to a guest of an employee of the hotel and not to the employee, such 'benefit' is too intangible to merit jury consideration of plaintiff's status. As the trial court concluded, the benefit is too remote to convert plaintiff's status from licensee to that of an invitee." Id. 593-594.