On Thursday the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in Doe v. Jameson Inn that people who enter a business premises to smoke pot are licensees rather than invitees. Here is the Court’s opinion.
The case involved the rape of a thirteen year old at the Jameson Inn in Pearl. The girl left the adjacent Tinseltown movie theater with a group of boys to smoke pot in the boys’ room at the Jameson Inn, which was across the street. One of the boys raped the girl in the room.
The circuit court of Rankin County granted the hotel’s motion for summary judgment after finding that the girl’s status on the property was a licensee. The Supreme Court affirmed.
Property owners owe licensees a duty to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring persons on their property. The court defined licensee as one who enters property with the owner’s permission for the person’s own pleasure or convenience.
An invitee is a person who enters property at the owner’s invitation for their mutual benefit. Property owners owe invitees a duty to warn the person about dangerous conditions that the owner has express or constructive knowledge of.
Justice Pierce wrote the Court’s 6–2 opinion. Justice Kitchens dissented in an opinion joined by Justice Chandler. The dissent argued that there was a fact question about the girl’s reason for entering the premises, since the girl gave contradictory statements about the events.
The case facts suggest that it would have been very difficult to get a plaintiff’s verdict in this case, regardless of the status of the girl.
This is an important decision for pot-heads. The take-home is that druggies need to rent their own room to smoke weed in—that way they will be an invitee. If they go to a friend’s room to smoke weed, they are a licensee. If another guest attacks them in that situation, they will not be able to recover. Dude, that’s harsh.