Reiter v. Max Marx Color & Chemical Co., A--458

CourtNew Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
Citation82 N.J.Super. 334,197 A.2d 597
Docket NumberNo. A--458,A--458
PartiesWilliam REITER, Plaintiff-Appellant and Cross-Respondent, v. MAX MARX COLOR & CHEMICAL CO., Defendant-Respondent and Cross-Appellant.
Decision Date14 February 1964

Page 334

82 N.J.Super. 334
197 A.2d 597
William REITER, Plaintiff-Appellant and Cross-Respondent,
MAX MARX COLOR & CHEMICAL CO., Defendant-Respondent and
No. A--458.
Superior Court of New Jersey
Appellate Division.
Argued Nov. 12, 1963.
Decided Feb. 14, 1964.

Page 336

[197 A.2d 598] Francis Sorin, Jersey City, for plaintiff.

H. Curtis Meanor, Jersey City, for defendant (Lamb, Blake, Hutchinson & Dunne, Jersey City, attorneys).

Before Judges GAULKIN, FOLEY and LEWIS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by


Following the decision of the Supreme Court of the previous appeal in this case, reported in 35 N.J. 37, 170 A.2d 785 (1961), affirming 67 N.J.Super. 410, 170 A.2d 828 (App.Div.1960), the case was tried again. The jury brought in a verdict of no cause for action, and plaintiff appeals from the resulting judgment.

The facts developed at the second trial were with few exceptions, substantially the same as those recited in the two opinions above mentioned, and therefore need not be restated. The appeal is grounded principally upon alleged errors in the charge.

The court charged the jury that 'the first issue is * * * whether the plaintiff at the time of his use of the ladder in question was an invitee or a licensee.' Then, after defining licensee and invitee and stating the owner's duty to each, the court said:

'Where an occupier of lands engages an independent contractor to do work upon his premises, an employee of said contractor, while executing any part of the work provided for by said contract, is on the premises presumably by request of said owner and would be considered an invitee, provided, however, that the occupier, in this case the defendant, knew or reasonably should have known or expected that said ladder would or might be used in the performance of the work required under this contract.

As there is no claim or evidence of any wilful or wanton acts of injury or hidden traps, if you determine that the plaintiff was a licensee and not an invitee, the plaintiff would not be entitled to a verdict and that would dispose of the case.

If you find that the defendant or its agents or servants did not know or in the exercise of reasonable care could not be expected to

Page 337

realize that plaintiff would descend into the interior of the tank in question, then you are to find that the plaintiff exceeded the scope of his invitation to use the premises of the defendant and you are to return a verdict in favor of the defendant of no cause for action.'

The trial judge gave that charge because he interpreted the opinions of the Supreme Court and the Appellate Division, above mentioned, as requiring him to do so. In justice to the trial judge, it must be acknowledged that the opinions are ambiguous. We think that those opinions do not [197 A.2d 599] support the charge, and that it was prejudicially erroneous.

It must be remenbered that the Supreme Court and the Appellate Division were dealing with a case which had been dismissed when plaintiff rested. On the assumption that the defendant would introduce evidence in support of its assertion that the plaintiff was a licensee at the time he was injured, the Supreme Court said that the issue of invitation and its scope would then be for the jury. However, the defendant...

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1 cases
  • Reiter v. Max Marx Color & Chemical Co., A--141
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • May 18, 1964
    ...was delivered PER CURIAM. We affirm the judgment of the Appellate Division substantially for the reasons given by it. 82 N.J.Super. 334, 197 A.2d 597 (App.Div.1964). To avoid any further misapprehension, we state, with respect to the issue of invitation, that when an owner of premises engag......

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