Dean Freeland (defendant) requested that friend and co-worker John Harvey Nelson (plaintiff) pick him up at his house for a business meeting the two had that day. As Nelson walked to the front door of Freeland’s resident he tripped over a stick that Freeland had inadvertently left lying on his porch, fell down, and sustained injuries. Nelson filed a negligence suit against Freeland and his wife seeking damages for the injuries he sustained in the fall. The trial court granted the Freelands’ motion for summary judgment. Nelson appealed. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The Supreme Court of North Carolina granted certiorari to review the status of negligence law in the state.