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Holzheimer v. Johannesen

871 P.2d 814 (1994)

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Holzheimer v. Johannesen

Idaho Supreme Court

871 P.2d 814 (1994)

Facts

Allen Holzheimer (plaintiff) went to the farm of Erling Johannesen (defendant) to retrieve fruit-packing boxes. Both men owned fruit farms, and the farmers in the area routinely bought at cost or borrowed boxes from each other with the expectation that the favor would be returned. While in Johannesen’s warehouse trying to retrieve boxes, Holzheimer fell from a stack of boxes and injured himself. Four days before his injuries, Holzheimer had asked Johannesen for boxes, and Johannesen had taken Holzheimer into his warehouse, showed Holzheimer where to find the boxes, and told Holzheimer that he could come back to get boxes at any time. Holzheimer sued Johannesen for premises liability. Johannesen moved for summary judgment, arguing that Holzheimer was a licensee and thus Holzheimer was owed a lower standard of care. The trial court denied the motion, holding that Holzheimer’s status in the warehouse was a question of fact for the jury. At trial, evidence of past box sales was admitted to demonstrate that the parties had a business relationship. Johannesen testified that he expected Holzheimer to purchase the boxes at cost or to replace them, that he made no profit on the boxes’ sale, and that the sale of the boxes likely cost him money in the end because of the labor involved. Further testimony indicated Holzheimer benefited from buying boxes from Johannesen because he could buy only the quantity he needed at a low cost. The judge instructed the jury to determine whether Holzheimer was a licensee or an invitee and gave the jury the standards of care for each status. The jury found in favor of Johannesen but did not indicate whether it found that Holzheimer was a licensee or invitee. Holzheimer appealed, arguing that he was an invitee as a matter of law and the jury should not have been given instructions regarding licensees.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Trout, J.)

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