Benedict v. Podwats

CourtNew Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
Citation263 A.2d 486,109 N.J.Super. 402
PartiesJoanne BENEDICT and Richard Benedict, her husband, Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. Thomas PODWATS and Joyce Podwats, his wife, Defendants-Appellants.
Decision Date31 March 1970

Page 402

109 N.J.Super. 402
263 A.2d 486
Joanne BENEDICT and Richard Benedict, her husband,
Plaintiffs-Respondents,
v.
Thomas PODWATS and Joyce Podwats, his wife, Defendants-Appellants.
Superior Court of New Jersey,
Appellate Division.
Argued March 16, 1970.
Decided March 31, 1970.

[263 A.2d 487]

Page 404

Bartholomew A. Longo, Newark, for appellants (Haskins, Robottom & Hack, Bloomfield, attorneys).

Karl R. Meyertons, South River, for respondents.

Before Judges KILKENNY, LABRECQUE and LEONARD.

The opinion of the court was delivered by

KILKENNY, P.J.A.D.

This personal injury negligence action was tried before a jury and resulted in a verdict in favor of plaintiff Joanne Benedict in the amount of $21,000 and in favor of her co-plaintiff husband Richard Benedict in the amount of $1500 for loss of consortium. Defendants' motion for a new trial was denied. Thereupon, defendants

Page 405

filed this appeal from the judgment based upon the verdict and from the order denying a new trial.

The facts are simple, clear and, for all practical purposes, undisputed.

On the morning of October 19, 1967 plaintiff Joanne Benedict drove to the home of her sister, defendant Joyce Podwats, to do at her request a floral arrangement[263 A.2d 488] in a room divider. Joanne had the day before purchased the flowers for the arrangement, for which she was paid by her sister Joyce. Plaintiff let herself into Joyce's home--not finding Joyce there at the time--with a spare key picked up at the home of their mother who lived nearby.

While at defendants' home Joanne 'straightened up,' did some dusting, put out some laundry her sister had done, and then got ready to do the floral arrangement. She had done such arrangements for her sister on prior occasions. After hanging out the laundry, she returned to the house and continued arranging the flowers.

A short time later Joanne's mother stopped by the house and told her that it looked like rain. After her mother left, she decided that she would take the sheets off the line because it was getting quite windy. As plaintiff was walking toward the back yard she fell at or near the edge of the patio and landed on her back on the sidewalk at the bottom of the steps, sustaining the injuries for which she and her husband were awarded damages by the jury, as noted above.

Joanne's legal status at the time of her injuries on defendants' premises was a crucial question at the trial. She had come to her sister's home at the latter's asking to make up the floral arrangement. She had bought the flowers for that purpose. Plaintiff her to 'do anything I'd see to be done.' So, she went to the basement, brought up a basket of laundry and hung out the laundry on the wash line near the patio. She cleaned around the house, made the floral arrangement and had her accident while going down the brick steps to reach

Page 406

the clothes line and bring in the clothes. The patio, of course, led out to the back yard. In all, she was at her sister's home doing these chores for about two hours, from about 11:30 A.M. to about 1:30 P.M. The jury could properly find, as it evidently did, that plaintiff's fall was caused by a defective condition in and about the patio and brick steps.

The trial judge instructed the jury that the injured plaintiff was 'an invitee,' and explained the duty of an owner of property to invitees. He noted that the property owner must exercise reasonable care to have the premises in a safe condition, and the duty to the invitee includes a duty to make a reasonable inspection to discover defective conditions. Further, the jury was told that this duty of care was owed by defendant to plaintiff Mrs. Benedict and, to recover, the jury must find that there was a violation of that duty of care and that the violation was the cause of this accident and of the injury Mrs. Benedict sustained. The trial judge denied defendants' request to instruct the jury as to the social guest' rule.

Defense counsel objected to that part of the charge whereby the jury was told 'the plaintiff was an...

To continue reading

Request your trial
17 practice notes
  • Hopkins v. Fox & Lazo Realtors
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 16, 1993
    ...of which the guest is unaware. Berger v. Shapiro, 30 N.J. 89, 97-98, 152 A.2d 20 (1959); Benedict v. Podwats, 109 N.J.Super., 402, 406-07, 263 A.2d 486 (App.Div.), aff'd o.b., 57 N.J. 219, 271 A.2d 417 (1970); Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343 (1969); Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Tort......
  • Merenoff v. Merenoff
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 1, 1978
    ...den. 29 N.J. 354, 149 A.2d 303 (1959); Van Der Woude v. Gatty, 107 N.J.Super. 164, 257 A.2d 720 (App.Div.1969); Benedict v. Podwats, 109 N.J.Super. 402, 263 A.2d 486 (App.Div.), aff'd o. b. 57 N.J. 219, 271 A.2d 417 (1970). Other jurisdictions have agreed that in our [388 A.2d 961] adversar......
  • Peterson v. Balach, No. 42630
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • July 14, 1972
    ...Jersey has bucked tradition by allowing a relative who helps out with household tasks to be classed as an invitee. Benedict v. Podwats, 109 N.J.Super. 402, 263 A.2d 486, affirmed, 57 N.J. 219, 271 A.2d 417 (1970). Connecticut has merely decided to unofficially elasticize its categories, as ......
  • Madrazo v. Michaels, Gen. No. 54405
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 10, 1971
    ...home from one house to another. Therefore, plaintiff was not defendants' social guest; she was their invitee. Benedict v. Podwats, 109 N.J.Super. 402, 263 A.2d 486 (1970); Brant v. Matlin, 172 So.2d 902 (Ct.App.Fla.1965); Murdock v. Petersen, 74 Nev. 363, 332 P.2d 649 This status of plainti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Hopkins v. Fox & Lazo Realtors
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 16, 1993
    ...of which the guest is unaware. Berger v. Shapiro, 30 N.J. 89, 97-98, 152 A.2d 20 (1959); Benedict v. Podwats, 109 N.J.Super., 402, 406-07, 263 A.2d 486 (App.Div.), aff'd o.b., 57 N.J. 219, 271 A.2d 417 (1970); Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343 (1969); Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Tort......
  • Merenoff v. Merenoff
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 1, 1978
    ...den. 29 N.J. 354, 149 A.2d 303 (1959); Van Der Woude v. Gatty, 107 N.J.Super. 164, 257 A.2d 720 (App.Div.1969); Benedict v. Podwats, 109 N.J.Super. 402, 263 A.2d 486 (App.Div.), aff'd o. b. 57 N.J. 219, 271 A.2d 417 (1970). Other jurisdictions have agreed that in our [388 A.2d 961] adversar......
  • Peterson v. Balach, No. 42630
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • July 14, 1972
    ...Jersey has bucked tradition by allowing a relative who helps out with household tasks to be classed as an invitee. Benedict v. Podwats, 109 N.J.Super. 402, 263 A.2d 486, affirmed, 57 N.J. 219, 271 A.2d 417 (1970). Connecticut has merely decided to unofficially elasticize its categories, as ......
  • Madrazo v. Michaels, Gen. No. 54405
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 10, 1971
    ...home from one house to another. Therefore, plaintiff was not defendants' social guest; she was their invitee. Benedict v. Podwats, 109 N.J.Super. 402, 263 A.2d 486 (1970); Brant v. Matlin, 172 So.2d 902 (Ct.App.Fla.1965); Murdock v. Petersen, 74 Nev. 363, 332 P.2d 649 This status of plainti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT