Articles Posted in Slip and Fall Injuries

massage_relaxation_massage_389727-1024x685Spas, health clubs, and wellness retreats are a few places that prioritize the self-care of their patrons, offering relaxing services like manicures, mud baths, and massages. These places also owe a legal duty to their patrons by using reasonable care to avoid causing any injuries. After a massage went wrong at Massage Envy (ME), a jury for the Fifteenth Judicial District Court for Parish of Lafayette (“District Court”) awarded the plaintiff, Julie Roy (“Roy”), $65,000.00 for her future medical expenses. Dissatisfied with this outcome, Roy appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeal for the State of Louisiana (“Circuit Court”), claiming that the jury failed to award her sufficient damages to cover her future medical expenses, especially in the light of her physician’s testimony.

 Roy’s injuries at Massage Envy resulted from falling off a massage table. Originally, Roy had scheduled a 90-minute massage, but she asked the massage therapist to stop after about 45 minutes, half of her scheduled time. The massage therapist, who was over six feet tall, had raised the massage table to reach Roy better during the massage. However, before Roy got off the table, the massage therapist left the room without lowering the table back to its standard height. Therefore, when Roy attempted to get off the table, she lost her balance and fell, injuring her knee, shoulder, back, and neck. Before leaving Massage Envy, Roy reported her injury to the management there.

 A year later, Roy sued ME for her fall injuries. A jury returned a verdict, finding equal, 50/50, fault of both Roy and ME and awarding $65,000 to Roy for her future medical expenses along with damages for her past medical experiences and general damages. Yet, Roy appealed this decision to the Circuit Court, arguing that the jury’s award of $65,000 for her future medical expenses was an abuse of discretion because it ignored the testimony of her physician.

courthouse_building_clock_tower-1024x685When a case ends at the trial court level, the judge signs a physical order document laying out the court’s decisions. This physical order document is called a final judgment; every case will only have one final judgment. Final judgments cannot be amended easily by either the trial court or the parties. The only permissible amendments are those that fix basic errors, such as spelling or arithmetic; all other modifications or changes should be brought up on appeal or in a motion for a new trial. Starnes v. Asplundh Tree Expert Co

A final judgment is not the end of a case. Almost every case has a right to appeal. The appellant will point to the section they believe is wrong and ask the appellate court to fix the issue. So what happens when a Louisiana Court signs two final judgments? The following case out of Baton Rouge demonstrates what occurs when this happens.

A graduate student at LSU fell and injured his ankle while leaving his university apartment when leaving for a work trip. He petitioned for worker’s compensation but later decided to bring a lawsuit against LSU for his injury in the 19th Judicial District Court in the Parish of East Baton Rouge. The 19th judicial district ruled that because he was in the course of his employment, the only remedy that this graduate student could receive was worker’s compensation. 

walmart_carrefour_langelier_entrance-1-1024x723If you slip and fall at a store, you might think the store will be liable for your injuries. However, to succeed in a slip-and-fall claim in Louisiana, there are various elements you must show before you can recover. You might not recover for your injuries if you do not provide evidence to support your claims. 

Joycelyn Griffin claimed that she slipped and fell at a Walmart store in Houma, Louisiana, because Wal-Mart’s employees were negligent in causing or failing to remove a foreign substance on the floor. She fell as she headed toward the register to check out. Griffin testified that around the time of the accident, she observed a store employee operating a waxing machine. Wal-Mart testified that this machine was not dispensing any type of liquid. Notably, Griffin testified that she did not recall if the floor was slippery, did not look to see if anything caused her to fall, and did not recall what caused her to fall. Under Louisiana law, in a lawsuit involving slip and fall incidents on a merchant’s premises due to a condition in or on the premises, the plaintiff (here, Griffin) is required to show that: (1) the condition presented an unreasonable risk of harm to the claimant and that risk of harm was reasonably foreseeable;  (2)  the merchant either created or had actual or constructive notice of the condition which caused the damage, before the occurrence; and (3) the merchant failed to exercise reasonable care. See La. R.S. 9:2800.6(A).

Wal-Mart moved for summary judgment. Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court should grant summary judgment when there is no genuine dispute of any material fact. Wal-Mart argued that Griffin had not made a positive showing of the condition’s existence before her fall. The district court granted summary judgment in Wal-Mart’s favor because Griffin failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the elements of her claim, as she could not recall what caused her to fall or provide other evidence supporting her claim. Griffin appealed.  

slip_heads_up_warning-1024x728Slip and fall claims are among the most common types of personal injury lawsuits. But how do you ensure that your claim makes it through the legal process? A dismissed case against a Metairie restaurant can show you what mistakes to avoid in setting up your slip-and-fall claim for success. 

Plaintiff Richard J. Boutall lost his footing and fell to the floor while exiting Minerva Cafe in 2013. As a result of his fall, Boutall broke his femur, was hospitalized for three weeks, and incurred over $30,000 in medical bills. In addition, during this three-week stay, Boutall endured multiple surgeries, including a hip replacement and an insertion of a surgical rod in his leg.

In a lawsuit against the cafe owner, he alleged that a small concrete ramp caused his fall at the door’s threshold. To support his claim, the plaintiff presented the expert report of a professional engineer who studied photographs of the cafe’s entryway. However, the trial court dismissed this case on summary judgment, meaning that it found that the claim did not state facts that would entitle the plaintiff to relief if they were proven true. Mr. Boutall appealed the dismissal. 

hospital_hospital_corridor_921034-682x1024Personal injuries occur every day in society and should be taken seriously. Yet, courts must judge the importance of each accident. As a result, not all injuries are ruled in favor of the injured individual. A lawyer representing an injured person must investigate the circumstances and facts surrounding the injury with due diligence. The lawyer must show the court that his client’s case should be heard because the evidence says so. However, when video evidence of a slip and fall injury in a hospital is not obtained, should a court allow the lawyer to continue investigating his client’s accident? A case out of Baton Rouge explores this question and reminds lawyers of their responsibility to act diligently in attaining evidence for their clients.

Bobbie Davis Cole was visiting her sister, a Baton Rouge General Medical Center (BGR) patient. When Ms. Cole entered the hospital, she slipped and fell on a slippery substance on the floor and was then helped by the security guard. Ms. Cole filed a lawsuit against BGR, claiming the security guard told her that others had fallen in the same area she had. 

BGR moved for summary judgment. A summary judgment would allow for the dismissal of the case. In filing this motion, BGR argued that Ms. Cole could not prove a foreign substance on the hospital floor injured her. Ms. Cole took the testimony of the security guard, who asserted he looked at the video camera footage and did not see anything on the floor. At the hearing for summary judgment, Ms. Cole filed a motion of continuance, which would allow her to continue the discovery process, contending that she was not ready to go forth with the hearing without having the surveillance video of her fall. The trial court denied her continuance motion and granted the hospital’s summary judgment dismissing Ms. Cole’s case. An appeal of the ruling followed.

cable_electricity_cables_electric-575x1024Have you ever noticed that running alongside power lines are other types of cables? They are not easily distinguishable from one another, but communication lines and support lines also run along our electricity source. Looking so similar, it would be hard for an ordinary person to tell to whom each line belonged. One New Orleans man’s inability to determine the owner of such a wire almost prohibited him from filing a lawsuit against a well-known communications company.  

Donald Morgan was at Canal Street and South Jefferson Davis Parkway intersection in New Orleans when he tripped over a guy wire (anchoring wires) and was injured. Mr. Morgan’s attorney personally inspected the utility pole attached to the guy wire before filing a lawsuit. The pole was marked with the name of a company that was no longer in business. Mr. Morgan’s attorney traced the pole to Entergy New Orleans, Inc. (“Entergy”).

After filing a lawsuit naming Entergy as the defendant, Mr. Morgan sent discovery requests to Entergy requesting the name of the guy wire owner.   The requests specifically asked for the names of any person/company with any interest in the guy wire and the names of any person/company responsible for maintaining the wire. In response, Entergy merely attached a joint use agreement for the pole between Entergy and Bellsouth.   

doorway_1-686x1024Tripping over a ledge in public can be both embarrassing and painful. Sometimes the fall can result in serious injuries. Who should be at fault for any damages sustained? As with many legal issues, it depends. Unfortunately for one woman in Covington, Louisiana, the apparent nature of the ledge, coupled with her own activities contributing to the fall, led the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal to dismiss her case.  

While soliciting a security systems company, Ms. Dale Cordell fell outside the Tanaka Building in Covington, Louisiana. Rather than attempting to enter through a doorway, Ms. Cordell walked through a patch of grass between the Tanaka Building and neighboring buildings. After looking through the window, Ms. Cordell walked back through the grass towards the street, where she tripped on a short ledge. She fell to her knees, hit her hands, and head on the cobblestone in front of the Tanaka Building. Ms. Cordell filed a lawsuit in the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. Tammany against Lorna Madison, the owner of the building, as well as several other parties, alleging severe injuries due to the unreasonably risky ledge at the Tanaka Building.   

Ms. Madison filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss the case based upon Ms. Cordell’s inability to prove the existence or knowledge of a defect that could have created an unreasonable risk of harm. The District Court agreed for one reason that a color change between the ledge and the cobblestone existed, putting pedestrians on notice. The District Court further noted that Ms. Cordell was not using the proper entrances or exits leading to and from the building. Ms. Cordell appealed to the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, arguing the District Court did not understand the facts of her case regarding the open and obvious nature of the ledge.  

hair salon slip fallA customer sustaining severe and permanent injuries from a slip and fall accident at a business can cause one to wonder about the potential liability of the business owner. This can become even more complex in a situation where the business owner has leased the unit from the party that owns the building. A building owner may be liable for the injury, even when the unit has been leased out. 

On October 24th, 2014, Ms. Greer visited Sportsman’s Hairadise in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Ms. Greer claimed that a salon employee instructed Ms. Greer to park behind the building and then access the unit through the rear entrance of the building. Ms. Greer used this entrance and had to take a single step down to enter the salon. Unfortunately, as Ms. Greer navigated down the step, she fell down and hit the concrete floor. Ms. Greer alleged that the fall caused severe, permanent, and debilitating injuries. Sportsman’s Hairadise leased the premises from Railroad Square, LLC (“Railroad Square”), which owned the building. 

Ms. Greer filed a lawsuit against Railroad Square in the Twenty-First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Tangipahoa, Louisiana. Ms. Greer alleged that the premises contained several defects presenting harm. These harms included a step-down of greater height than allowed by building code, a surface made up of different gradients, an absence of handrails, a lack of adequately marked surface edges, and insufficient warnings of the step-down.

slip fall lawsuit louisianaThe following scenario is not uncommon. Person enters restaurant without incident.  Same person exits restaurant, fails to notice the one-step curb just beyond the door, falls, gets injured, and files a lawsuit against the restaurant.  When is a restaurant owner responsible for such an incident? A recent case out of Baton Rouge explored this question and provided useful guidelines for owners and patrons alike.  

Debra Williams was exiting Walk-On’s, a restaurant in Baton Rouge, when she fell from the sidewalk curb to the parking lot.  Williams was talking with a group of people when she fell and claims she did not see there was a step down. Williams sustained injuries from her fall and filed a lawsuit against Walk-On’s and its insurance company, Liberty Mutual. In support of her petition, Williams attached the affidavit of a forensic architect who stated the curb area did not contain any warnings or different paint color. The architect also cited numerous building codes but failed to demonstrate how the codes were applicable to the Walk-On’s curb. The trial court found that the architect’s affidavit did not factually support Williams’s claim and was unpersuasive. The trial court dismissed the case and an appeal followed.  

In Louisiana, a merchant owes a duty to persons using their premises to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. La. R.S. 9:2800.6(A).  An injured party must prove that the condition causing the injury posed a foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm and the merchant had actual or constructive notice of the danger but failed to exercise care in removing the danger. See Dupas v. Travelers Prop. Cas. Ins. Co., 762 So.2d 127 (La. Ct. App. 2000). In determining whether a condition is unreasonably dangerous, a court essentially will decide whether the social utility and value of the potential danger will outweigh and justify the potential harm to others. See Reed v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 708 So.2d 362 (La. 1998). Moreover, if a condition is deemed “open and obvious” it will not be deemed to present an unreasonable risk of harm. No legal duty is owed when the condition encountered is obvious and apparent to all. See  Moore v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 186 So.3d 135 (La. Ct. App. 2015).  

We often imagine slipping and falling on company property to be an instant payday for the injured party. Slip and fall injuries, however, can occur as a result of a variety of conditions and in numerous locations. One recent unusual situation involved algae in a parking lot that caused a customer to slip and fall. The outcome of the case hinged on whether the algae was an obvious and apparent danger. 

Leslie Martin (“Martin”) parked her car in the parking lot of Delta Downs, a racetrack/casino/hotel that Boyd Racing, L.L.C. and Boyd Gaming Corp. (“Boyd”) owned and operated. She then walked around to access a walkway leading to the entrance. She claimed that while walking past her car, she slipped on some algae and fell, sustaining injuries. Martin filed a lawsuit against Boyd, seeking damages from the injuries she suffered from the fall. Martin claimed that Boyd failed to maintain its property free from unreasonably dangerous conditions and did not warn of the dangerous condition. 

In response, Boyd filed for summary judgment, claiming that Martin was unable to prove that the open and obvious condition (the algae) that led to her accident was an unreasonable risk of harm, as required under Louisiana negligence law. Summary judgment means that there is no genuine dispute of the facts, and that the opposing party cannot recover by law. Although Martin stated that she was looking straight ahead and did not see the algae, Boyd argues that she would have seen it if she had been looking down. After Martin fell, an employee of Delta Downs immediately inspected the area. The employee testified that the algae were visible, which was confirmed with photographs the employee took immediately following the accident. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Boyd, finding that there was no genuine issue of material fact about whether the algae were unreasonably dangerous and not visible. 

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