Brief Fact Summary. Lawrence and Algerie Mitchell (Plaintiffs) appeal from a judgment dismissing their cause of action for failure to state a claim. The complaint sought damages for injuries suffered by the Plaintiffs as a result of Archibald & Kendall, Incorporated’s (Defendant) negligence.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When deciding whether a Motion to Dismiss was properly granted, the court is only required to accept well-pleaded facts as true without considering any new legal theory presented by Plaintiffs.
A possessor of land is subject to liability to business invitees while they are upon the land.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure was procedurally proper? Whether the owner of land has a duty of reasonably protecting an invitee against criminal acts that take place beyond the boundaries of his premises?
Held. Yes, dismissal was proper under Rule 12(b)(6). No, the owner of land has no duty to invitees beyond the boundaries of his land. Dismissal affirmed. On the issue of whether dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) was procedurally proper, the court properly relied on Rule 12(b)(6) in disposing of the case since the Plaintiff sets forth a new theory of liability. The court is only required to accept well-pleaded facts as true without considering any new legal theory presented by Plaintiffs. Here, the Plaintiff’s complaint was a narrative recital of the facts relevant to the issue of the Defendant’s duty. The Defendants have no duty to the Plaintiffs. A possessor of land is subject to liability to business invitees only while they are on their land. Plaintiffs were not considered to be on Defendant’s property, so Defendant was under no duty to the Plaintiffs. Here, the Plaintiffs were parked on a public thoroughfare, which was not part of Defendant’s property.
Dissent. The dissent is in agreement with the majority that the Defendant had no duty to protect against criminal acts of third persons on a public street. However, the facts of this particular case created a duty due to the increased risk.
Discussion. There is a very liberal standard for sufficiency of plaintiff’s claim. Courts typically will not dismiss the claim unless the court is certain that the plaintiff cannot prove the facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief.