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Butts v. Weisz

Citation. 2010 WL 703238 (W.D. Pa.), aff'd 410 Fed. Apps. 470 (3d Cir. 2010)
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Brief Fact Summary.

A man tripped on an unexpected step in a home he was a guest in.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Liability attaches if the owner should know that there is an unexpected condition.


Plaintiff and her husband was invited over to the defendant’s home as a guest for a social visit.  Both plaintiffs and defendants were elderly.  Plaintiffs and defendants went to dinner, and, upon return, plaintiff’s husband excused himself to use the restroom.  He walked the same route through the house that he had previously, and fell off a single 8″ stair in the doorway between two rooms, which were dimly lit.  He was pronounced dead of blunt force trauma to the head.


Did the defendant breach their duty of care in failing to warn the plaintiff of the stair?


No, liability attaches if the homeowner should expect that the guests will not notice the danger, but the deceased had navigated the area several times. The plaintiffs did not breach their duty of care.


The court found that the defendants did not breach their duty of care by failing to warn the plaintiffs of the danger nor sufficiently lighting it.  They found that the decedent’s successful use of the route before was sufficient to foreclose the defendant’s duty, and consequently they did not breach.

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