“Where an invitee on premises,  being unfamiliar therewith, and  proceeds into a place of impenetrable darkness and  falls into an aperture and is injured, as a matter of law he does not exercise ordinary care for his own safety and hence any injury he receives is the result of his own contributory negligence…”
The rule is thus accurately stated in volume I, Sherman & Redfield on Negligence (Revised ed. -- 1941), section 131, "A person who comes into an unfamiliar situation, where a condition of darkness renders the use of his eyesight ineffective to define his surroundings, is not justified, in the absence of any special stress of circumstances, in proceeding further, without first finding out where he is going and what may be the obstructions to his safe progress. Violation of that rule is contributory negligence as a matter of law."
California now uses proportionate fault in Comparative
The Robinson rule is not applicable where the invitee is familiar with the premises.
Moreover, as indicated by the court in Hayes, the rule declared in Robinson, would not be applicable, although the premises are unfamiliar, where the area is merely dimly or poorly lighted, that is, where the circumstance of "impenetrable darkness" does not exist.
Hayes v. Richfield Oil Corp. (1952) 38 Cal.2d 375 (See also McLaughlin v. City of Los Angeles,60 Cal.App.2d 241; and Rau v. Redwood City Woman's Club 111 Cal.App.2d 546).
See examples of Robinson Rule cases at Inadequate Lighting of Premises.
The courts in this state are reluctant to hold
that contributory negligence exists as a matter of law. [See
Florez v. Groom Development Co., 53 Cal.2d 347, 357 ; McLaughlin v.
City of Los Angeles, 60
Cal.App.2d 241, 244; Atherley v. MacDonald, Young & Nelson, Inc.,
142 Cal.App.2d 575, 585 ; Lokey v. Pine Mountain Lbr.
Co., 205 Cal.App.2d 522, 529 .]
Indeed, the negligence of the plaintiff
contributes proximately to the accident as a matter of law are rare.[Anthony
v. Hobbie, 25 Cal.2d 814, 818 ; Kirk v. Los
Angeles Ry. Corp., 26 Cal.2d 833, 838) ]