Gladon v. Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
75 Ohio St.3d 312, 662 N.E.2d 287 (1996)

  • Gladon had been drinking at a baseball game and ended up on a subway train in Cleveland (RTA). He got off by himself at a station and was attacked by people who pushed him onto the tracks. While lying on the tracks, he was hit by a train that was unable to stop.
  • Gladon sued RTA for negligence because of the lack of security on platforms, and for failure to stop the train.
    • The former is a passive condition of the premises, the latter is an active action taken by the RTA.
      • There is a different standard of care for these two issues.
  • The Trial Court granted summary judgment to RTA for the security claim, and sent the failure to stop claim to a jury.
  • The jury found for Gladon and awarded $2.7M in damages. RTA appealed.
    • The jury was told that the train driver must use ordinary care. But that the defendant is also required to avoid ordinary care to avoid danger.
    • The jury was also told that Gladon should be considered to be an invitee.
      • An invitee is a person who rightfully comes upon the premises of another by invitation, express or implied, for some purpose beneficial to the owner.
      • There are three categories, invitees, trespassers, and licensees. There is a different standard of care for each category, so it becomes important to decide which category the plaintiff fits into.
  • The Appellate Court reversed and remanded the case for a new trial.
    • The Appellate Court found that a visitor only has the status as an invitee while he is on part of the land to which his invitation extends.
      • Gladon had not been invited to lie on the tracks.
    • The Court found that Gladon was not an invitee, he was legally a trespasser, even if he was trespassing unwillingly.
      • Gladon unsuccessfully argued that his being on the track was not intentional and therefore he should retain his invitee status.
    • The standard of care is different for invitees and trespassers.
      • RTA had an obligation to “discover and to avoid dangers” to invitees. So if Gladon was an invitee they had a duty to discover his presence on the tracks.
      • RTA only had a duty to refrain from willful, wanton, and reckless behavior towards trespassers. They had no duty to anticipate Gladon lying on the track and had no duty to avoid damaging him until he was discovered by the train driver (when it was too late to stop.)
    • The case was remanded to determine if RTA’s actions were within the standard of ordinary care for a trespasser.