|Opinion by: LINDBERG, J.
On August 8, 1977, at approximately 5:30 or 6 p.m., plaintiff came to the defendants' home. Both plaintiff and Thomas Elmore, Sr. (Thomas, Sr.), were officers of a Masonic Lodge, and plaintiff's purpose in making the visit was to discuss lodge business. During the course of plaintiff's visit, co-defendant, Thomas Elmore, Jr. (Thomas, Jr.), the defendants' 47-year-old son, entered the living room with a steak knife. Thomas, Jr., said "You've been talking about me," and advanced toward plaintiff. Thomas, Sr., tried to restrain his son while plaintiff left the house. However, Thomas, Jr., was able get away from his father, and he followed plaintiff out of the house where he stabbed the plaintiff several times in the chest area. Thomas, Sr., followed his son out of the house, and when he saw that plaintiff had been injured, he summoned help.
Based on this incident, plaintiff filed suit against Thomas Elmore, Sr., Esther Elmore, and Thomas Elmore, Jr.
It should be noted that since defendants' son was no longer a minor, plaintiff was not proceeding on a theory of parental liability for the torts of a child. Instead, plaintiff's basic contention is that defendants, as landowners, were negligent in failing to protect him from a dangerous condition upon their premises -- namely their son who had a history of mental illness. The extent of defendants' duty in this regard is based in part on whether the plaintiff had the status of an invitee or of a licensee at the time he visited the premises of the defendants. The trial court assumed for purposes of deciding the motion for a directed verdict that the plaintiff was a business invitee, although he made no specific findings on this issue.
A person is an invitee on the land of another if "(1) he enters by invitation, express or implied, (2) his entry is connected with the owner's business or with an activity the owner conducts or permits to be conducted on his land and (3) there is a mutuality of benefit or a benefit to the owner." In order for a person to be classified as an invitee it is sufficient that he go on the land in furtherance of the owner's business. It is not necessary that the invited person gain an advantage by his entry on the land. A social guest is considered a licensee and has been defined as one who enters the premises of the owner by permission, but for the licensee's own purposes. Therefore, a social guest is a person who goes on another's property for companionship, diversion, or entertainment.
The duty owed by the owner of premises towards an invitee is greater than that owed towards a licensee.A social guest, as a licensee, generally must take the premises of his host as he finds them. However, the owner of the premises has a duty to warn the licensee of any hidden dangers which are unknown to his guest, of which he, the owner, has knowledge, and to refrain from injuring his guest willfully or wantonly. Towards an invitee, the owner of the premises has a duty to exercise reasonable care in keeping the premises reasonably safe for use by the invitee. There may be circumstances by which this duty is extended to include the responsibility to protect the invitee from criminal attacks by third parties.
Plaintiff asserts that sufficient evidence was presented at trial to establish his status as an invitee at the time of the incident. Specifically, plaintiff argues that Illinois courts have recognized that the transaction of business of a fraternal organization carries with it such a status. In support of this proposition, plaintiff relies on the case of Wilkins v. Benevolent Protective Order of Elks (1955), 5 Ill. App. 2d 370, 125 N.E.2d 549 (abstract). In our view, plaintiff has overstated the holding in Wilkins. In that case, the plaintiff was a club member who was injured when he fell on a newly waxed floor on the club premises. The court afforded the plaintiff the status of an invitee in that the facts indicated that he was a "prospective customer for soup, cigars, and other small sundries" on sale at the club. Thus Wilkins is clearly distinguishable from the instant case in that in Wilkins the accident occurred on the club premises where commercial items were offered for sale. Here, although there is evidence that Thomas, Sr., permitted lodge members to come to his home to pay their dues, the primary benefit of this service ran not to the defendant himself, but rather to the fraternal organization of which both parties were members. In sum, we conclude that plaintiff is best categorized as a licensee-social guest and thus the only duty owed to the plaintiff by the defendants was to warn him of hidden dangers unknown to the plaintiff of which the defendants had knowledge.
There is no question that defendants failed to warn plaintiff of the danger that their son might attack a house guest before the attack was underway. Thus the issue becomes whether under the facts of this case defendants had a duty to do so. Plaintiff contends that he presented sufficient evidence by which a jury could have concluded that the defendants had knowledge of previous incidents which would charge them with a duty to anticipate the criminal acts of their son toward the plaintiff. We disagree.
Verdicts should be directed and judgments n.o.v. entered "only in those cases in which all of the evidence, when viewed in its aspect most favorable to the opponent, so overwhelmingly favors movant that no contrary verdict based on that evidence could ever stand." In our view, the evidence so overwhelmingly established that the defendants did not know or have reason to know of the possibility that Thomas, Jr., would commit a criminal act toward plaintiff that no contrary verdict could ever stand. Although they did know their son had a history of mental problems and had been hospitalized several times, and also that approximately 10 years before the present incident their son had been involved in what could be characterized as two or three violent incidents, the length of time which had passed would not give them reason to know that their son would engage in violent behavior in August 1977. This conclusion is buttressed by the fact that plaintiff had previous contact with Thomas, Jr., without incident.
Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.