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06/18/87 Sylvia Rosett, v. Leatrice Schatzman

June 18, 1987

SYLVIA ROSETT, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

LEATRICE SCHATZMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

510 N.E.2d 968, 157 Ill. App. 3d 939, 109 Ill. Dec. 900 1987.IL.840

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Alan E. Morrill, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE JOHNSON delivered the opinion of the court. LINN and JIGANTI, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE JOHNSON

Plaintiff, Sylvia Rosett, brought an action in the circuit court of Cook County against defendant, Leatrice Schatzman. Plaintiff and defendant each own a home in Illinois and a home in Florida. Plaintiff sought damages for injuries suffered while a social guest in defendant's Florida home. The trial court ruled that Illinois law, rather than Florida law, applied to this case. Applying Illinois law, the trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff now appeals, raising many issues. We will address only her contention that Florida law, rather than Illinois law, applies to this case.

We reverse and remand.

The record shows that plaintiff and defendant have lived in Chicago, Illinois, and have been friends for at least 30 years. Plaintiff and defendant each bought a home, one near the other, at the same time in Boca Raton, Florida. For several years, plaintiff spent approximately six to seven weeks in January and February at her Florida home. Defendant spent approximately two weeks in February and two weeks in August at her Florida home. Plaintiff and defendant visited each other often in Chicago; they visited each other in Florida every winter.

The record further shows that a sliding glass door separates the living room from the patio in defendant's Florida home. The door slides in a metal ledge that protrudes approximately two inches from the floor. Plaintiff alleged in her complaint that she was a social guest in defendant's Florida home on February 2, 1982. Plaintiff further alleged that, walking from the living room to the patio, she tripped on the ledge, fell and suffered injuries.

Plaintiff filed her complaint on February 1, 1984. She alleged that defendant owed her the duty of exercising reasonable care in maintaining her property, that defendant breached this duty, and that she was injured as a proximate result of defendant's negligence. Plaintiff sought $15,000 in damages. Defendant filed her answer on September 14, 1984. Defendant denied plaintiff's material allegations and, as an affirmative defense, stated that she did not owe plaintiff a duty of reasonable care, but rather, a duty not to act wilfully and wantonly.

Defendant moved for summary judgment on October 18, 1985. She contended that the law of Illinois applied to the facts of this case rather than Florida law. Noting that plaintiff was a social guest, defendant argued that, under Illinois law, she owed plaintiff only the duty not to act wilfully and wantonly. Since plaintiff did not allege that she (defendant) acted wilfully or wantonly, and since the facts would not support such an allegation if plaintiff made one, defendant argued that she was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.

In response, plaintiff contended that Florida law applied to the facts of this case. Plaintiff noted that under Florida law, a property owner owes all persons on their property a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances. Since she properly stated a cause of action in negligence, plaintiff argued that summary judgment was improper.

On June 9, 1986, the trial court ruled that the law of Illinois applied to this case. The trial court next found that no factual issue existed as to any wilful and wanton misconduct by defendant. Thus, applying Illinois law to the facts, the trial court granted summary judgment for defendant. Plaintiff appeals.

In an action for negligence, a plaintiff must establish the existence of a duty of care that the defendant owes to the plaintiff, a breach of that duty and an injury proximately caused by the breach. The question of duty, " i.e., whether the defendant and the plaintiff stood in such a relationship to one another that the law imposed upon the defendant a obligation of reasonable conduct for the plaintiff's benefit, is ...


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