aisle-buy-cart-811105-683x1024When a customer is injured in a slip and fall on a wet supermarket floor there are some situations where the supermarket is held responsible. Other times, there are situations where the supermarket is not at fault and the accident is chalked up to bad luck. Where that line is drawn is determined by what the supermarket knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. When is a slip and fall the Supermarkets fault?

Patricia Guillaume was shopping in a Super One Foods in Shreveport. While in the produce aisle she slipped and fell on water that had pooled on the floor. She was injured and an EMS team took Ms. Guillaume to the hospital where she was treated. Ms. Guillaume then brought a lawsuit, alleging that Super One was negligent by allowing the water that caused her fall to pool on the floor. After a bench trial, the Trial Court ruled in favor of Super One Foods. The Trial Court determined that Ms. Guillaume did not prove that the water was on the floor for a period of time long enough to give Super One Foods constructive notice of the danger and was not negligent.

There are three elements an injured party needs to prove for a negligence claim to be successful against a merchant. La. R.S. 9:2800.6. First, that there was a risk of harm that was not reasonable and that it was foreseeable that harm could be caused. Second, the store either knew about the condition or created the condition. The knowledge of the condition can be actual or constructive knowledge. Third, the plaintiff needs to prove that the merchant did not exercise care that was reasonable. All three of these elements need to be proven for a successful case. White v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 699 So. 2d 1081 (La. Ct. App. 1997). If a plaintiff fails to prove any of the three elements then the case fails. Rowell v. Hollywood Casino Shreveport, 996 So. 2d 476 (La. Ct. App. 2008).

aisle-cart-commerce-1005638-768x1024Supermarkets generally owe a duty to their customers to make sure the store is safe to walk around in. But this duty has certain rules built into it to make sure that this standard is fair to both the customers and the place of business. Where this line is drawn was found by a Shreveport area woman after she slipped and fell on what appeared to be cracked eggs. So, when are stores liable for a slip and fall?

Ava Williams-Ball was shopping at a Brookshire Grocery store when she slipped and fell on a clear “egg-like” substance in the diary aisle. The fall caused her to injure her back and shoulders and these injuries took months of pain relief medication and physical therapy to recover. She brought a lawsuit against Brookshire and her argument that the merchant was liable for her injuries was rejected by the Trial Court. The Trial Court determined that Ms. Ball failed to prove that Brookshire had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition. The Trial Court relied on surveillance video from the store to make its determination. Ms. Ball then appealed the decision on the grounds that the Trial Court committed an error when it decided that Brookshire did not have notice of the dangerous condition and that Brookshire employees did not create the dangerous condition.

For a negligence claim to be successful against a merchant there are three elements the plaintiff needs to prove. La. R.S. 9:2800.6. First, that there was a risk of harm that was not reasonable and that it was foreseeable that harm could be caused. Second, the store either knew about the condition or created the condition. The knowledge of the condition can be actual or constructive knowledge. Third, the plaintiff needs to prove that the merchant did not exercise care that was reasonable. All three of these elements need to be proven for a successful case. White v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 699 So. 2d 1081 (La. Ct. App. 1997). If a plaintiff fails to prove any of the three elements then the case fails. Rowell v. Hollywood Casino Shreveport, 996 So. 2d 476 (La. Ct. App. 2008). Slip and fall lawsuits against a company will not be changed unless the decision was clearly wrong or there was manifest error. Jones v. Brookshire Grocery Co., 847 So. 2d 43 (La. Ct. App. 2003).

chairs-daylight-flowers-2101086-1024x683Accidents happen – both on the job and when going about regular life. When injuries do occur, we are more likely to go about getting treatment rather than gathering evidence. Nobody is falling down the stairs and then getting up to take pictures or get eyewitness reports. Unfortunately, failure to gather sufficient evidence can result in lasting pain and make you responsible for the bill for your injury. So what happens if you don’t gather evidence after an injury on the job?

In Houma, Louisiana, Keith Russell was delivering materials to build a patio on Timothy Walsh’s property. Russell walked toward a fence but there was no gate. Mr. Russell turned around to walk to the other side of the property and in doing so stepped into an uncovered water meter hole where he fell and hurt his knee. There were no witnesses. Mr. Russell finished the delivery and did not speak with Mr. Walsh. Mr. Russell then sued for damages of her injury. Claims for damages based on injuries caused by a “thing” are made pursuant to La. C.C. art 2317 and 2317.1. These statutes establish that an owner is responsible for things in their custody only (1) upon a showing that they knew, or exercising reasonable care, should have known of the defect that caused the damage (2) that damage would have been prevented if the owner exercised reasonable care (3) which he failed to do.

Mr. Walsh filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of the claims on the basis that Mr. Russell did not meet his burden of proof that Mr. Walsh had actual or constructive notice of a defect on his property. In support, Mr. and Mrs. Walsh pointed to plaintiff’s deposition testimony, as well as their own affidavits, to show the lack of evidence to support Mr. Russell’s claim. A motion for summary judgment is used when there is no dispute over important facts relating to the issue. An appellate court reviews a summary judgment as if it were a trial court asking whether there is any genuine issue of material fact, and then, whether the plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment is granted if according to the evidence presented there is no dispute over the important facts and the party requesting summary judgment would win.The trial court found that Mr. Russell had the burden to produce evidence that defendant had actual or constructive notice of a lack of a cover on the water meter hole. During questioning the plaintiff said that neither Mr. Walsh nor Mrs. Walsh knew or would have known that the water meter cover was uncovered. This effectively nullified Mr. Russell’s case. Therefore, the trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment ruling against the plaintiff and dismissed all claims against him. The appellate court agreed with the decision of the lower court.Whether Mr. Russell believes that the Walsh family is liable for not covering a hole on his property, his case against them lacked the evidence and material facts to get the case to trial. It is important to find good lawyers who can help prepare you for testimony, collect material facts, and evidence to support valid claims after your injury.

arizona-asphalt-blur-2199293-1024x684Sometimes accidents at work happen. But what happens when an accident could have been prevented by an employee? It is a common question to wonder whether an employer is still liable for the actions of an employee, especially in cases where a defect may be open and obvious. A Louisiana delivery driver confronted this very situation after he was injured on a loading dock.

Saia Motor Freight employee Ethan Rose was delivering to Doerle Food Services, LLC, in December 2010. Because the delivery was so large, a temporary bridge made of a metal docking plate, which extended from the truck and across the gap in the floor from the truck and the warehouse floor, was required to move it off of Rose’s truck and into Doerle Food Services’ warehouse. On December 22, the makeshift bridge did not lie flat, but instead had a bump where the flap hinged. The conditions on the bridge were also muddy and wet. As Rose tried to move a pallet of delivery goods over the bump and hinge, he fell onto the ground, injuring his neck and back.

Rose brought a lawsuit for damages from his injury against Doerle Food Services and its insurance company, Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company, eleven months later. In 2015, Doerle Food Services and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Rose could not prove there was an “unreasonable risk of harm” on the loading dock bridge plate because the defect was open and obvious.

boy-elastic-rope-exercise-equipment-176794-683x1024Typically, the scary aspect of surgery is over when the procedure ends and the person wakes up from the anesthesia. The last thing most people expect is to get injured after the surgery is already over. Unfortunately for one Iberia Parish woman, her troubles were only beginning even though she had a successful surgery. That being said, can you claim medical malpractice while you are recovering?

Mrs. Rachel Broussard underwent a surgery replacing her left knee, and was subsequently to be transferred to Lafayette Rehab following the surgery. A Lafayette Rehab employee arrived in a company van to transport her from the hospital, and Mrs. Broussard was loaded into the van in her wheelchair by the employee. On the ride to the rehabilitation center, the driver suddenly braked to avoid a car wreck, whereon Mrs. Broussard allegedly fell out of the wheelchair and on the floor of the vehicle, causing severe pain.

After the incident, Mrs. Broussard filed a lawsuit for the damages of the injury, naming Lafayette Rehab as defendant. Further, her husband, Mr. Broussard, sought money from loss of consortium. Lafayette Rehab responded with a Dilatory Exception of Prematurity, arguing that the lawsuit was filed too soon. Lafayette Rehand contended that the Broussards’ allegations had to be reviewed by a Medical Review Panel before they could bring the lawsuit, because they fell under the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act.

2-picture-5-30-2019When you go to the hospital, you expect to be taken care of by a qualified physician who properly diagnoses you. If that doesn’t happen, tragedy can strike. And if tragedy strikes, you want the responsible partie(s) to be held responsible by being liable for damages. But does the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (MMA) limit liability in these cases?

Tragedy struck for the Billeaudaus, whose daughter Brandi suffered a stroke and ultimately died.  When Brandi Billeaudau collapsed, her parents transported her to Opelousas General Hospital in Opelousas. There, the emergency room doctor, who lacked the required experience and training required by the hospital, improperly diagnosed Brandi with a focal motor seizure instead of a stroke. Her parents knew better and requested a transfer to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital (OLOL) in Lafayette, where she got the necessary treatment, but that was too little too late.

The Billeaudau’s brought a lawsuit against Opelousas General to hold them liable for giving credentials to the doctor. They contended that since granting credentials is an administrative rather than a medical decision, it should not be subject to the limits set in the MMA. In order to determine whether the wrong in this case was medical (and subject to limits in the MMA) or administrative (and not subject to the MMA), the court analyzed:

abandoned-abandoned-building-architecture-1687067-819x1024State of Emergency conditions and evacuations seem to have become increasingly more common in this state over the years. Floods, hurricanes, and other extreme weather conditions can force a whole neighborhood to relocate for a few weeks. At times the evacuation protocols remain voluntary, meaning you may stay in your home at your own risk. Residents choose to weather the storm for a number of reasons, be it to avoid an expensive relocation or to protect their property from looters. Whatever the reason you stay behind, be aware that a State of Emergency prompts law enforcement to be more vigilant in their safety patrols.

One late night Neil Rabeaux was walking down the side of the road in Butte La Rose when he was stopped by police officers. There was a State of Emergency in effect at the time, and many residents had voluntarily evacuated the town due to a looming flood warning. While speaking with Rabeaux, officers noted Rabeaux appeared intoxicated and that his waistband contained a handgun. A radio call to dispatch erroneously indicated Rabeaux had multiple felony convictions on his record. They arrested Rabeaux for Possession of a Firearm by a Felon and Illegal Carrying of a Firearm. Officers later discovered Rabeaux did not have a record, and dropped all charges. Rabeaux then filed a lawsuit against the two officers for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.

The officers filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming immunity under the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act (“the Act”). They asserted that since there was a State of Emergency at the time, their actions were immune from suit. The Trial Court agreed and dismissed the lawsuit. Rabeaux appealed.

couple-investment-key-1288482-1024x684Carrying a great deal of debt is a liability, and it may lead to some disastrous consequences. In the event of a default, your creditors can take you to court to recover the amount owed. If a judgment is made against you, your finances come under a microscope. Large transfers of money or property are strictly monitored and may even be reversed if your creditor feels the loss of the property may lead you to become more insolvent. So, what do you do when you have a large debt but need to transfer property? You need a good lawyer to navigate high debt situations, and to help you decide whether bankruptcy is the best way to avoid misfortune.

In the case of River Parish Financial Services, LLC v. London and B.W. Gill, River Parish won a money judgment against London Gill for a past due debt. River Parish was displeased to learn that London had gifted some of her property to B.W. Gill. Consequently, River Parish filed a revocatory action. The “revocatory action” entitles a creditor to annul a gift made by a debtor, if that creditor believes making that gift increases the debtor’s insolvency. See La. Civ. Code art. 2036. B.W. Gill claimed the action was barred by preemption. This simply means the period in which to contest the gift had lapsed. The gift was made in 2005, and River Parish did not file its action until late 2011. The trial court agreed, dismissing the action. River Parish appealed, arguing the prescriptive period should not have begun until the gift was recorded, and here the gift was not recorded in the public record until September of 2010.

On appeal, the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal had to determine whether River Parish’s claim was indeed time-barred or not. The court looked at La. Civ. Code art. 2041, which states that the creditor must take action within one year of learning of the transaction, but no more than three years from the time of the transaction. River Parish’s argument was that the prescriptive period should begin running on the date the transfer was recorded, rather than the date it actually occurred.

animal-brown-horse-6468-1024x683Horses are majestic animals but can be dangerous depending on the nature of the activities they are performing. The Equine Immunity Statute provides certain immunities to equine sponsors that own with horses that engage in certain equine activities. See La. R.S. 9:2795:3. “Participants” in equine activities cannot sue equine sponsors but mere “spectators” can, with limited exceptions. While the Equine Immunity Statute gives broad protections, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently found that a horse bite accident should proceed to a jury trial and not be settled as a matter of law by a trial judge. So, what are your legal steps after being bit by a horse in Louisiana?

The plaintiff visited the defendant’s facility and inquired about feeding and visiting the defendant’s horses. The defendant owned several horses and provided educational opportunities to New Orleans residents who were interested in learning and interacting with horses. The defendant also provided boarding services for outside horse owners. On September 23, 2013, a few days after her first visit, plaintiff returned with carrots to feed the defendant’s horses. While the main office was closed that day, she encountered two outside horse owners who told her that a “pony” had been known to have bitten a child recently. Plaintiff went to the boarding area and fed three of the defendant’s horses. While she was feeding the third horse, she was bit on her hand.

The appellate court reversed the trial court’s holding that the defendant was entitled to immunity as a matter of law. The court held that the trial court applied an overly broad definition and interpretation of “participant.” Determining whether someone qualified as a participant must be done by a jury, or trier of fact. Statutes that provide immunity must be strictly construed against the party claiming said immunity. See Medine v. Geico Gen. Ins. Inc., 748 So.2d 532, 535 (La. App. Ct. 1999).

apartment-architectural-design-architecture-1693946-1024x736Lease agreements are important documents that specify the rights and obligations of both lessor and lessee. Specifically, termination of leases must follow specified procedures and the tenant must be given adequate notice before leases can be terminated. That being said, does a letter from the lessor to the lessee constitute proper notice for termination of a lease? The Fourth District Court of Appeals of Louisiana recently held that a tenant was not given proper notice for termination of his lease and therefore, the termination was not valid.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Kenneth Lobell, plaintiff, suffered extensive damage to property that he leased from Cathy Rosenberg and 2025 Canal St., L.L.C. On December 28, 2007, Rosenberg sent a letter to Lobell stating that he had defaulted on certain lease payments for a three-story building located on 2025 Canal Street. Rosenberg subsequently sent letters on January 31, 2007 and February 12, 2008 regarding these defaulted payments. The letters also stated her desire to terminate the lease. After a bench trial, the trial court judge held that there was a proper termination of the lease and Mr. Lobell owed certain costs and back payments to Rosenberg and 2025 Canal St., L.L.C.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals of Louisiana disagreed with the trial court and held that the lease was not properly terminated. Because leases are contracts between lessor and lessee, they afford certain rights and obligations to each party. See La. C.C. 2668. Lessees must pay rents for the property according to the terms of the lease agreement, among other obligations. See La. C.C. 2683. When a lessee does not pay rent, a lessor has two options: 1) obtain a money judgment based on the amount owed or 2) cancel the lease. See Richard v. Broussard 495 So.2d 1291, 1293 (La. 1986). To terminate a lease, the lessor must follow specific eviction procedures. These procedures include giving a five-day notice to vacate, followed by judicial procedures to effectuate an eviction. See La. C.C.P. art. 4701; see also La. C.C.P. 4731; see also La. C.C.P. 4733.