Articles Posted in Slip and Fall Injuries

addiction-betting-casino-5258-1024x684Providing preferential seating to disabled customers is a great service most businesses provide. This also means that the wheelchairs, walkers, and other items the disabled customers must be stored in areas that provide a safe walking environment for other customers. The controversy surrounding where it is proper or improper to put these items was illustrated in a case where a Baton Rouge Casino was sued by a woman who tripped over the walker of a disabled customer. With the help of an excellent attorney, the Casino was able to prove it seated a disabled gentleman properly when the woman sued the casino after her fall.

73-year-old Elvera Willig was eating dinner a Baton Rouge Casino, the L’Auberge Casino & Hotel (“the Casino”) on New Year’s Day 2014. While making her 4th trip back from the buffet, she tripped and fell over an unidentified man’s walker that was slightly sticking into the pathway. As a result of the fall, Ms. Willig fractured her hip.

It was later determined that the unidentified man was directed to the seat by an employee of the Casino. Ms. Willig brought a lawsuit against the Casino. In the lawsuit, she claimed that the Casino was negligent and failed to protect guests; the Casino was negligent and sat the patron inappropriately close to the walkway; and the Casino negligently sat the unidentified man and his walker in a place where other customers could trip on the walker.

64-Picutre-05-22-2019We have a reasonable expectation that public shopping areas will be free from dangerous hazards. Most stores even have policies regarding safety procedures. However, these safety procedures are not allows followed and injuries often result. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to Michelle Gauthier while shopping at a Dollar Tree Store.

Ms. Gauthier was shopping in a Dollar Tree Store located on Airline Drive in Bossier City, Louisiana. While walking through the store, she noticed boxes left on the floor throughout each aisle for restocking purposes. Ms. Gauthier walked down one of the isles, reached for a product on the shelf, and then took a step back. As she did so, her foot got caught on one of the box corners causing her to slip and hit her neck on the shelf in front of her. 

Ms. Gauthier filed for damages against Dollar Tree Store. Dollar Tree responded by filing a motion for summary judgment, a motion to dismiss the case, on the grounds that the box was plainly visible and did not create an unreasonably dangerous condition. The trial court ultimately found for Dollar Tree because Ms. Gauthier had seen the other boxes. Therefore, the trial court found it was reasonable to assume that Ms. Gauthier had seen the box which she tripped on. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s finding and remanded the case for further proceedings.

chairs-menu-restaurant-6267-1024x683When in a restaurant, one expects the kitchen and the dining room to be clean, and it is the restaurant’s duty to uphold that expectation. However, in a busy restaurant someone could accidentally spill a drink, and it does not get cleaned up because the wait staff did not know about the spill. In an instance of a trip-and-fall on an unknown substance, is the restaurant liable for injuries? This is an issue the State of Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal recently decided.

Cheryl Tate, her husband, and two of their friends decided to dine out at an Outback Steakhouse in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on September 21, 2012. Upon their arrival, they were immediately greeted by the hostess and led to their seats. However, after taking two or three steps towards their table, Mrs. Tate claims she slipped and fell on an unknown clear liquid that she did not see before she fell. After her fall, Mrs. Tate brought a lawsuit against Outback Steakhouse in the 19th Central District Court of Louisiana for damages pertaining to injuries she allegedly sustained from her slip and fall at the restaurant. However, after the discovery was complete, the Court dismissed the case on the grounds that Mrs. Tate could not meet her burden of proof that Outback Steakhouse had actual or constructive knowledge of the clear liquid Mrs. Tate alleges that she slipped on. Following this decision, Mrs. Tate decided to appeal the decision to the State of Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal.

In this appeal, the Court of Appeal is charged with determining if the summary judgement of the lower court is appropriate. According to La. C.C.P. art. 966(B)(2), “summary judgement is appropriate only if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions, together with any affidavits, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgement as a matter of law.” This means that Mrs. Tate has to prove that she could be able to fulfill her evidentiary burden of proof at trial. The lower court granted summary judgement in favor of Outback Steakhouse because the court believed Ms. Tate could not meet this burden and therefore there was no genuine issue to be tried. However, on appeal the court must determine if this decision aligns with the law outlined in LA. R.S. 9:2800.6.

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.

59-032619-photoEvery business which opens its doors to the public owes a duty of care to their patrons, a duty to make sure the patron is safe and free from harm. Often, this is as simple as keeping walkways clear and ensuring spills and other hazards are cleaned up in a timely fashion. But what most businesses have never contemplated is a possibility that the duty of care would be owed to something other than a real, live, breathing person. Could the persons to which a merchant owes a duty of care include “juridical” personhood, such as a corporation or a limited liability company (L.L.C.)? In this instance, the answer was, “no.”

In April of 2013, Deborah Norred slipped and fell in the bathroom of the New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood restaurant on South Clearview Parkway in Jefferson Parish. She filed a lawsuit against the restaurant for negligence. Mrs. Norred was also the only member of American Rebel Arms, an L.L.C. on the verge of opening a firearms store in Holden. American Rebel Arms also filed a lawsuit against New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood for Mrs. Norred’s injury, claiming the injuries postponed the opening of the store, causing economic losses.

The restaurant argued that it had no duty of care to American Rebel Arms. It moved for a peremptory exception for no cause of action. A “peremptory exception” is a court motion which requests the court dismiss the lawsuit. Filing a peremptory exception for no cause of action means that there is no valid claim for which the plaintiff can demand relief. In short, the Defendant did nothing wrong, or at least nothing actionable under law. The Trial Court granted the exception, and American Rebel Arms appealed.

12-Photo-4_2_19-1024x683Ms. Sayre was a guest at the L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles when she tripped and fell while walking in front of the hotel restaurant. Based on the video footage of the accident, there were witnesses to the slip and fall; however, the hotel failed to document anything or take statements from any of the witnesses. Ms. Sayre reported a sticky substance on the floor, and subsequently suffered injuries to her knee, hand, neck, and abdomen. Later, Ms. Sayre learned she also had three fractured ribs and a full rotator cuff tear that would require surgery. So, what happens if you slip and fall in a restaurant?

Ms. Sayre filed a suit for negligence against the resort asserting that the clear, sticky substance caused her fall. She also stated that a restaurant employee told her three other people had fallen in the same spot. When Ms. Sayre attempted to find evidence of the accident, she couldn’t find any and never received an accident report from the resort. She later amended the petition asserting claims that the resort purposely failed to properly secure and preserve evidence to prevent people from bringing suit.

During trial, Ms. Sayre’s counsel requested that the court instruct the jury that failure to preserve evidence raises a presumption that the evidence would’ve been detrimental to the case absent a reasonable explanation. So, if the jury  finds that the defendant could have reasonably preserved the evidence and failed to do so without explanation, the jury can presume that the evidence wouldn’t favor the party. Ms. Sayre was informed by the court that they wouldn’t give the jury those instructions. Sayre’s counsel objected, the trial proceeded, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. Ms. Sayre appealed the decision, claiming that the trial court erred by not giving the jury the instructions she requested.

47-Email-03-13-19-Image-1024x795When most people think of filing a lawsuit, they expect to attend a trial in a court where a judge and jury decide the outcome of the case. However, most of the time cases are decided long before a trial is reached. One of the legal mechanisms for ending a lawsuit before it reaches trial is called a Motion for Summary Judgment. A summary judgment motion allows a party to ask the court to rule in their favor on a particular issue as a matter of law. The court may grant the motion if the parties are in agreement as to the important facts of the case and if the party that is making the motion is legally entitled to prevail on the claim in question. As this case demonstrates, a summary judgment motion can be an effective tool for ending a lawsuit, so when should you ask for summary judgement in a personal injury case?

Javonna Rayfield was staying at the Millet Motel in LaPlace, Louisiana on August 29, 2012, when Hurricane Isaac made landfall and created wind speeds reaching 100 mph. At around 5:00 a.m. Ms. Rayfield was awakened when the ceiling and walls of her room fell on top of her. Ms. Rayfield was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated for her injuries. Later, Millet found that a fire door down the hallway was buckled and the hasp lock was dangling and that the high winds had caused a concrete block wall on the floor above to collapse. The concrete blocks fell above Ms. Rayfield’s room, causing the ceiling and wall to buckle and fall.

Ms. Rayfield brought a lawsuit against the Millet Motel and its insurer, United Fire & Insurance Company (“Millet”). She alleged that the premises in the motel were defective and that Millet knew or should have been aware of the defective conditions. Ms. Rayfield filed a summary judgment motion, asking the court to conclude that there was a defective condition on the premises and that this condition was what caused her injuries. Millet similarly filed a summary judgment motion, asking the court to find that Ms. Rayfield’s injuries resulted solely from Hurricane Isaac. The trial court decided in Millet’s favor by granting their summary judgment motion and denied Ms. Rayfield’s motion for partial summary judgment, a decision which Ms. Rayfield appealed.

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