Brown v. Davenport Holding Co.

Decision Date08 April 1938
Docket NumberNo. 30285.,30285.
Citation279 N.W. 161,134 Neb. 455
CourtNebraska Supreme Court


Syllabus by the Court.

1. An owner has the duty of exercising ordinary care for the safety of an invitee.

2. In the absence of unusual circumstances and conditions, the maintenance of polished hardwood floors and the use of small rugs in an apartment is not negligence for which the owner is liable to a prospective tenant invited to inspect the premises.

Appeal from District Court, Douglas County; Leslie, Judge.

Action by Grace Brown against the Davenport Holding Company for injuries sustained in fall while visiting premises of defendant in response to an advertisement for purpose of leasing an apartment. From a judgment in favor of the defendant on a directed verdict, the plaintiff appeals.


Lower & Sheehan, of Omaha, for appellant.

Kennedy, Holland, DeLacy & Svoboda, of Omaha, for appellee.


DAY, Justice.

This is an action for damages for personal injuries brought against the owner and operator of an apartment building by one who visited the premises in response to an advertisement for the purpose of leasing an apartment. Mrs. Brown, the appellant, stepped upon a small rug, slipped, and fell to the floor while inspecting the apartment. At the conclusion of the plaintiff's evidence, the court directed a verdict for the defendant.

Mrs. Brown, in answer to the advertisement, visited the apartment building with her husband and daughter for the purpose of inspection, and with a view of leasing an apartment for the use of her daughter. They looked at the livingroom and the kitchen, and then walked into the bedroom. Mrs. Brown then started to walk across to the window, and as she passed the foot of the bed she stepped upon a small rug, slipped, and fell at the foot of the bed. The party was shown the apartment by an agent of the owner, and the only question presented to this court is the liability of the owner for the condition of the floor as maintained by him. There is no dispute as to the furnishings of the room, nor as to the manner of the fall. There was a small rug at the foot of the bed and Mrs. Brown stepped upon it and fell. The floor was waxed hardwood such as the appellant was accustomed to in her own home. The evidence indicates that the floor was highly polished, and that the rug would slip. In fact, the husband of the injured woman put his foot on the rug and found it would move easily; he also turned the rug over and found that “it looked like it had been waxed, or it was just shellac underneath, now.” The daughter did not make an inspection of the floor and rug, and this is the only evidence upon which to predicate liability.

[1][2] Of course, an owner is bound to exercise ordinary or reasonable care for the safety of an invitee, which...

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