DIMOND, Justice Pro Tem.
Dorothy Webb suffered a broken hip when she stubbed her toe in a crack in a Sitka sidewalk and fell to the concrete surface.
The court, in its memorandum decision, and the parties in their briefs, refer to the status of Mrs. Webb as a licensee or invitee as bearing on the degree of care to be exercised by the City and its resulting liability or non-liability for Mrs. Webb's injury. This is understandable because in some of our past decisions we have followed the views expressed in the Restatement of Torts, which are reflective of the common law.
Upon re-examining the basis for those decisions, we have reached the conclusion that the subtleties and refinements of the rigid common law classifications of trespassers, licensees and invitees adds confusion to the law and is no longer desirable in modern times. This conclusion was reached by the Supreme Court of the United States approximately 18 years ago, when it was held that the law of admiralty would not recognize the same distinctions between an
In more recent years, there has been a significant modern trend to abolish the classical distinctions between trespasser, licensee and invitee as the controlling factor in determining the scope and extent of the duty of care owed by landowners
We have decided to join the jurisdictions which have rejected the difference between the common law categories and no longer will predicate liability of a landowner upon the status of the person entering upon the land. We apply instead ordinary principles of negligence to govern the conduct of a landowner. The rule that we adopt is this: A landowner or owner of other property must act as a reasonable person in maintaining his property in a reasonably safe condition in view of all the circumstances, including the likelihood of injury to others, the seriousness of the injury, and the burden on the respective parties of avoiding the risk.
The reasons given by the courts for abolition of the trespasser-licensee-invitee distinctions are persuasive. In the words of Chief Judge Bazelon, for example:
In applying to this case the rule we adopt, we are not holding that the City, as landowner, is now an insurer of its property or that it must endure unreasonable burdens to maintain its property. What we do hold is that the status of Mrs. Webb, while using the City's sidewalks, is not solely determinative of the City's duty of care owed to her. We recognize, of course, that the circumstances of Mrs. Webb's presence on the City's property have some relation to the question of the City's liability. This is so because the foreseeability of her presence determines in part (a) the likelihood of injury to her, and (b) the extent to which the City must take action or the interest it must sacrifice to avoid the risk of injury to one such as Mrs. Webb.
Although the trial court in this case referred to Mrs. Webb as a "licensee", it did adopt in essence the rule we state in this case by holding that the City's duty was to exercise reasonable care to maintain its sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition for travel. It also held that "there is no affirmative duty to repair [all]
From considering Mrs. Webb's answers to the City's interrogatories, and from her deposition, it appears that the salient facts as to the condition of the sidewalk and Mrs. Webb's injury are largely undisputed. But there is still left the primary issue of whether the City had maintained the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition in view of all the circumstances, including the likelihood of injury to others, the seriousness of the injury, and the burden of avoiding the risk. In determining that issue, the general rule is that on a motion for summary judgment all inferences from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion — in this case, Mrs. Webb.
As a general rule, issues of negligence are generally not susceptible to summary determination, but should be resolved by trial in the ordinary manner.
We believe that reasonable minds could differ on the question of whether there was negligence in this case, either on the part of the City or on the part of Mrs. Webb, or both.
The judgment is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with the views expressed in this opinion.
REVERSED and REMANDED.
ERWIN, J., not participating.
In essence we have followed this rule, without extensive discussion, in holding that the State of Alaska has a duty to exercise reasonable care to maintain state highways in a reasonably safe condition. State v. Abbott, 498 P.2d 712, 725 (Alaska 1972).