Articles Posted in Slip and Fall Injuries

branding-buy-city-264636-1024x683Injuries arise in many unexpected ways and locations, even from a trip to the local grocery store. Sometimes this occurs due to a patron’s own clumsiness. Regardless, a grocery store may still be responsible for injuries if the store was negligent, or did not take reasonable actions to fix a known danger. For one Gretna woman, however, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed a ruling by the 24th Judicial District Court Parish of Jefferson holding that the grocery store had no responsibility for her injuries.

Around 5:00 P.M. one evening in May, Tami Luft headed to the local Winn-Dixie on Belle Chasse Highway and Wall Boulevard to purchase chips and bread. After she picked up her chips, Ms. Luft made her way to the bread section when she suddenly tripped on a piece of plastic that supported a bottom shelf in the chip aisle. The store manager, Mr. Lollis, helped Ms. Luft up, she finished her shopping, and then she went home. Nearly a year later in April, Ms. Luft filed a lawsuit against Winn-Dixie, claiming negligence for creating the hazardous condition that caused her injuries. The district court ruled in favor of Winn-Dixie, so Ms. Luft appealed to the Court of Appeal which affirmed the ruling.

To sue for negligence resulting from injury on a merchant’s property, Ms. Luft had to prove three elements under Louisiana law. La. R.S.9:2800.6(B). First, there had to be “an unreasonable risk of harm” that was also “reasonably foreseeable.” Second, Winn-Dixie had to either have created or “had actual or constructive notice of the condition which caused the damage” before the accident occurred. Third, Winn-Dixie had to fail in exercising “reasonable care.” Here, Ms. Luft had the burden of proof, meaning that to win her case she needed to prove each element. For Winn-Dixie to win the case, it only needed to refute one element. The element Winn-Dixie focused on was the second, claiming that the store neither created nor had actual or constructive notice of the danger posed to Ms. Luft by the plastic support.

21-card-game-black-jack-blackjack-1871508-1024x644In order to successfully handle a lawsuit addressing the duty a business has to its patrons, an injured party should know that under Louisiana’s duty-risk analysis the main questions are: (1) whether a duty was owed; (2) whether that duty was breached; and (3) whether the breach caused the patron’s harm. Additionally, for a lawsuit in which the premises of the building are alleged to be dangerous, the plaintiff must prove that the building defect in question was “unreasonably dangerous.” Broussard v. State ex. Rel Office of State Buildings, 113 So.3d 175 (La. 2013).

A skilled attorney, and a successful injured party, will also be aware of how to win a motion for summary judgment (or survive the other party’s request for summary judgment). A motion for summary judgment is granted when there is no genuine issue as to material fact and a judgment as a matter of law is appropriate. La. C.C.P. art. 966. This essentially means that the dispute does not hinge on determining whether facts are true or false, but instead hinges on whether elements of the law have been met using the facts that both parties agree to be true.

On February 12, 2015, Lee Edmison fell down an escalator at Harrah’s New Orleans Casino and sustained severe injuries. Mr. Edmison’s blood alcohol content was 0.244 at the time of injury, three times Louisiana’s legal limit for driving. Mr. Edmison brought a lawsuit against Caesars Entertainment, the owner of Harrah’s, and Schindler, the manufacturer and servicer of the escalator.

28-Email-06_24_19-picturePublic entities are treated as private entities when it comes to slip and fall situations. They must abide by a liability standard when a customer or employee slip and fall on their premises. The standard gives the public entity responsibility for things that they control. The standard is similar to the standard used in cases of slip and fall. In this case, the court considered whether a slip and fall on a public entity’s premises can lead to liability. 

  The Grotes were at a conference at the River Center Convention Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when Mrs. Grote tripped and fell on an elevation of one inch between two concrete walkway near the entrance of the River Center. After the incident, the Grotes filed a petition for damages against SMG, Federal Insurance Co., and the City of Baton Rouge. They argued that the defendants were liable for damages from the injury. The Grotes then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the defect in the sidewalk was unreasonably dangerous. After the Grotes’ summary judgment, the City filed a summary judgment stating that the sidewalk was not unreasonably dangerous and was open and obvious. 

In cases of slip and falls with a public entity, a motion for summary judgment is properly granted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions show that there are no genuine issues as to material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The mover bears the burden of proving that he is entitled to summary judgment. He has the responsibility to demonstrate the absence of factual support for one or more essential elements of his opponent’s claim. La. C.C.P. art. 966. If the mover fails to prove his burden, the burden never shifts to the adverse party, and the mover is not entitled to summary judgment. LeBlanc v. Bouchereau Oil Co., Inc., 15 So. 3d 152 (La. Ct. App. 2009).

up-and-down-the-stairs-1254204-1024x743Although many people are aware that merchants are required to keep their premises reasonably safe, it can be complicated to establish what exactly constitutes unreasonable risk. 

While on a shopping trip at the Mall of Louisiana, Hermina Lavergne, her daughter, and her granddaughter, stopped at BJ’s Restaurant (“BJ’s”) to eat. As the group was being escorted to their table, Lavergne fell down several steps, severely injuring her right foot. The host had advised Lavergne’s daughter and granddaughter to watch their step; however, Lavergne did not hear the warning herself because she was reading the restaurant’s menu as she walked. 

Lavergne filed a lawsuit to recover damages, alleging that Lavergne was injured due to a lack of adequate lighting and a lack of warning about the steps. The trial court found that the steps presented an unreasonable risk of harm, but also found that Lavergne failed to exercise reasonable care as she walked to the table. BJ’s appealed the finding, arguing that the step was not unreasonably dangerous.

54Slip and falls are one of the most common accidents in the United States.  Though some slip and falls may only lead to a sense of embarrassment, others can lead to permanent and serious damage to the body. Thus, it makes sense that an establishment owner should ensure that his or her establishment is safe. However, it is also important that people who visit an establishment should be responsible and not behave recklessly. In order to achieve this through law, Louisiana has an “open and obvious” doctrine, which states that an establishment is not responsible for people who were injured due to an open and obvious defect at the establishment. 

While out for some exercise at the Acadiana Mall in Lafayette, Wilson Trahan slipped and fell on a sidewalk, fracturing his right fibula. Trahan apparently slipped on a buildup of algae while trying to avoid a surface of water on the sidewalk. Trahan sued Acadiana Mall, but the district court dismissed his lawsuit. Trahan appealed, and the Court of Appeal ordered the district court to retake Trahan’s case for further proceedings. However, the district court ruled in favor of Acadiana Mall, holding that the algae buildup was open and obvious and that Trahan did not have a legitimate claim. Trahan appealed once more to the Third Circuit Court of Appeal, arguing that the district court erred in using the open and obvious doctrine to rule in favor of Acadiana Mall. 

Under Louisiana law, an owner or custodian is responsible for a thing under his or her control and that an owner or custodian is responsible for any damage that the thing causes due to the negligence of the owner or custodian. La. C.C. art. 2317.1. For a plaintiff to successfully prove their claim, he or she must show: (1) that the defendant owned the thing that caused the damage; (2) that the thing had a defect and presented an unreasonable risk of harm; (3) that the defendant should have known about the defect; (4) that the defect could have been prevented if the defendant had taken reasonable care; and (5) that the defendant did not take reasonable care. Riggs v. Opelousas Gen. Hosp. Trust Auth., 997 So.2d 814 (La. App. Ct. 2008). However, if the defect is open and obvious, there is not an unreasonable risk of harm. Broussard v. State ex rel. Office of State Bldgs., 113 So.3d 175 (La. 2013)

44-Email-1024x723If injured at work, many people will turn to a lawyer to learn about the legal options and damages available to them. Yet, a good lawyer can do more than just obtain damages, such as negotiate with the employer to facilitate accommodations needed in order to return to work. 

Louisiana school teacher Dena Wempren was injured when a student pulled a chair out from under her, causing her to fall in a seated position. Ms. Wempren filed a “Disputed Claim for Compensation” which she later amended after being instructed by the School Board to return to work even though her pain management doctor had instructed otherwise. When a court-appointed doctor examined her, she was told she could return to work but only in a modified capacity. The School Board responded to the doctor’s findings by demanding she return to work, and Ms. Wempren was forced to comply or else lose some of her worker’s compensation. After returning to work, Ms. Wempren filed a third amended complaint when she felt her job demanded more than she was capable of given her injured condition.

At trial, the court looked at whether Ms. Wempren was able to work and if the School modified her work position enough to accommodate her injuries. The trial court sided with Ms. Wempren finding the job description Ms. Wempren was working under did not relay the physicality that would be required on the job, after she presented medical evidence which indicated she should not have returned to work without treatment. The School Board appealed the decision.

image-for-post-26-1024x791What’s wrong, Lassie? Did Timmy fall down the well in Red River Parish? No? It was John Cantu who fell in the well, because of someone’s negligence? Let’s let Louisiana’s Second Circuit Court of Appeal figure this one out.

John Cantu, a truck driver, made a delivery to a well site owned by Encana Oil & Gas and operated by Schlumberger in Red River Parish. Cantu had to climb up a short stairway to a Schlumberger trailer in order to have the delivery receipt signed. While attempting to climb up the staircase, he fell down a hole and injured himself. Cantu claimed the hole represented an unreasonable risk of harm and that Schlumberger had neglected to fix the hole. On October 2, 2013, after filing a lawsuit, Cantu settled with Schlumberger out of court; Cantu agreed to release Schlumberger from all liability following the accident in exchange for a cash settlement of $375,000. Following this settlement — which is also known as a compromise — Cantu and Schlumberger jointly filed a final motion to dismiss the case on October 24, 2013.

However, one day earlier, on October 23, 2013, Cantu had filed a supplement and amended petition in which he named Encana as a defendant. In his amended petition, Cantu alleged that Encana allowed a dangerous condition to exist at their drill/work site. On February 26, 2014 Encana sought dismissal on the theory that the trial court no longer had jurisdiction over the case because the filed order for dismissal by Cantu and Schlumberger had the effect of a final judgment; such a final judgment was not subject to alteration by the trial court. Encana cited the October 24 motion to dismiss as evidence that the case had been settled between Cantu and Schlumberger and had been dismissed by those parties. The trial court agreed with Encana and dismissed Cantu’s amended petition. Cantu then appealed this decision to the Second Circuit.

betting-casino-casino-machine-34201-1024x683Property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe conditions on their premises. However, if you are injured on someone’s property, there are still numerous elements you must prove in order to prevail on any lawsuit you may file for injuries arising from an unsafe premises. Establishing these elements can be especially challenging when you are injured from an activity that may be considered openly and obviously risky. This was this situation facing Mr. and Mrs. Marshall following Mrs. Marshall’s accident on an escalator at Jazz Casino in the Orleans Parish of Louisiana.  

Hyecha Marshall and her husband, Loyal, were frequent patrons of the Jazz Casino (“Casino”). Mrs. Marshall used a small wheelchair that the Casino provided her as a walker and cart. While walking in an underground tunnel connecting her hotel to the Casino, Mrs. Marshall discovered the elevator was out of service. Therefore, she decided to step onto the escalator, using her wheelchair as a walker. While riding the escalator, she lost her balance and fell to the floor. Her wheelchair subsequently fell down the escalator onto her. 

After Mr. and Mrs. Marshall filed a lawsuit against the Casino alleging that the Casino failed to warn about the risks of using the Casino-issued wheelchair as a walker and failing to maintain safe premises, the Casino moved for summary judgment. The Casino argued that Mrs. Marshall had not shown that there was an unreasonably dangerous condition in the Casino that caused her accident. Additionally, the Casino argued it did not have a duty to warn Mrs. Marshall about using its wheelchair as a walker while riding the escalator because the risk of injury was obvious and apparent. Summary judgment is appropriate when all the submitted pleadings and evidence show that there is no genuine issue of material fact. La. C.C.P. art. 966. The trial court granted the Casino’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the Marshalls’ lawsuit because it found that Mrs. Marshall had not established the Casino owed her a duty, which was an essential element of her negligence action. 

architectural-design-architecture-country-home-2287310-1024x700When customers slip and fall at a store, they expect to be able to recover for their injuries. However, recovery can become complicated when multiple parties were involved in maintaining the premises, such as when the store outsources with another company to provide maintenance services at the store. 

Mr. Terry Collins and his wife Lainie Collins (the Plaintiffs) filed a lawsuit against Home Depot in Gretna, Louisiana and ISS Facility Services, Inc. (the Defendants) after Mr. Collins slipped and fell on a liquid on the floor in a lumber aisle at the store. On the day of the accident, maintenance workers from ISS Facility Services were operating a floor cleaning machine near the site of the accident. 

Home Depot filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that the Collins could not satisfy the required burden of proof for claims against merchants in showing that Home Depot had either created, or had notice of the liquid substance that allegedly caused the accident. See La. R.S. 9:2800.6. The trial court granted Home Depot’s motion for summary judgment, stating that ISS was an independent contractor, so that Home Depot had not created the alleged dangerous condition. Furthermore, the Collins had not provided sufficient proof that Home Depot had actual or constructive notice of the alleged dangerous condition. 

art-close-up-costume-1144283-1024x683A Mardi Gras Ball can be an exciting and fun event; however, when someone is injured, the mood turns from festive to fearful. If you were the one injured, from whom do you recover your damages? Can you even recover? If you are the organization, are you insured? Who will bear the cost associated with the injury? For an organization, having a strong insurance contract from the beginning can work to alleviate these concerns and many others.  

 Ms. Clesi had attended a Mardi Gras Ball at the Pontchartrain Center when she sustained injuries resulting from a fall. She then filed suit against The City of Kenner (“the City”) and Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London (“Lloyd’s”). The underlying case is pending. The City proceeded to file for damages against The Krewe of Argus (“Argus”). The City alleged that there was a Use License Agreement between it and Argus, which required Argus to obtain an insurance policy from Lloyd’s for the use of the Pontchartrain Center for its Mardi Gras Ball. The City claimed that it was entitled to protection under the insurance policy in the same way Argus was. If the City’s claim was correct, Lloyd’s would be forced to defend the City against Ms. Clesi’s damages claims. Further, the City seeks reimbursement from the attorney fees and other costs associated with defending Ms. Clesi’s suit.

The trial court found in favor of the City. An appeal followed. Defendant appellants argued that the court must further interpret the indemnification provision of the Use License Agreement so that there could be a determination of the scope of Lloyd’s duty to defend the City.   

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