Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

dollar_general_store_in-scaledIf you slip and fall over an item that has fallen at a store, you might think that you will be able to recover for your injuries in a lawsuit against the store. However, it is not enough to simply show that you slipped and fell. Instead, you must show that the store knew about or created the condition that caused you to slip and fall. Because Lilly Edwards could not show this, the court dismissed her lawsuit against a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dollar General store.

While shopping at a Dollar General store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Edwards tripped on a box that she later described as a poster board.  She claimed this poster board fell into the aisle where she was shopping. Edwards claimed she tripped on it as she went around the corner, which caused her to fall and injure her knee. After this fall, Edwards sued the Dollar General store. Dollar General filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted.  The trial court held that Edwards could not prove that Dollar General had known about the hazardous condition that resulted in her fall.  Without this knowledge, Dollar General could not be found liable.  Edwards then appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal.  

Summary judgment is appropriate when the evidence shows no genuine issues of material fact. See La. C.C.P. art 966(B)(2). Under Louisiana law, a store owner such as Dollar General owes a duty to people who come to shop there to exercise reasonable care to ensure its floors are kept in a reasonably safe condition and that the store has no hazardous conditions. See La. R.S. 9:2800.6. Here, Edwards had the burden of proving: (1) the poster board that she tripped over was an unreasonable risk of harm; (2) Dollar General had either created or had knowledge of the poster board on the floor; and (3) Dollar General did not exercise a reasonable standard of care. 

foggy_sidewalk_morning_fog-scaledPremises liability is an active area of personal injury law, and accidents occurring on public property are no exception. The question often arises, who is liable for a slip and fall on a public sidewalk? In this case, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal was asked to determine the premises liability of the town of Lake Arthur for a fall occurring on a public sidewalk built and maintained by this public entity.

On July 11, 2014, Robin Rogers Richard fell while walking along a sidewalk in Lake Arthur. The portion of the sidewalk where her fall occurred was a driveway that allowed maintenance vehicles to access a public park, with a sloping transition on either side running perpendicular to the street. This portion of the sidewalk was completed in September 2013 by John Anderson Concrete Finishes, Inc. (Anderson), under the direction of Robert Bertrand, the major of Lake Arthur. 

Ms. Richard filed a motion for summary judgment on the liability issue, arguing the slope of the transition area did not meet certain state and national requirements and was, therefore, defective per se. However, at her deposition, she indicated that her last step before her fall was on a flat portion of the new sidewalk, not the sloped portion. In response, Lake Arthur, Anderson, and its insurer, Seneca Specialty Insurance Co, filed motions for summary judgment alleging statutory immunity from liability and they were not liable because the condition of the sidewalk was open and obvious.

shopping_cart_shopping_supermarket_1-scaledEveryone can picture a grocery store on a busy day. The aisles are congested, and workers are hurrying to replace products on the sales floor. There may be stocking carts blocking walkways. Who is responsible if a shopper trips over a worker’s cart and injures herself? What about if the worker and the shopper knew the cart was there?

This scenario is exactly what happened to Donna Massery, a shopper when she tripped over a vegetable cart at a Rouses Market in New Orleans. She had arrived at Rouses and was searching for ginger when she approached Produce Manager, Jose Villa, to ask for directions. Villa was restocking produce that was on a cart. The cart was approximately 5 to 6 feet wide and 3 feet tall, with a long bed spanning the length. The middle section of Villa’s cart was empty, though boxes were stacked on both the left and right sides. 

Ms. Massery reached for the ginger upon Mr. Villa’s direction, turned to walk away, and fell over the cart. She sustained soft tissue damage from catching herself with her hands and hitting her shin and knee on the cart. There was a factual dispute over the length and substance of Ms. Massery and Mr. Villa’s conversation. Mr. Villa contends that he alerted her to the hazard and directed her to move away. Ms. Massery claims it was a shorter conversation limited to the subject of her ginger inquiry.

ant_dod_pomonkey_2015-scaledHospital admission can often be a terrifying experience, but even more so is an ICU admission. Your life is literally in the hands of hospital doctors and nurses. But what happens if you sustain injuries unrelated to your original illness or injury while in the ICU? A recent patient at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Ville Platte, Louisiana, was left with no legal recourse after sustaining multiple ant bites during her ICU stay.   

Linda Searile was admitted to Mercy Regional Medical Center (Mercy Regional) in September 2011 after falling and hitting her head. After her condition deteriorated, she was moved to the ICU. Two days later, a nurse discovered ants on Ms. Searile’s arm and in her bed. The nurse removed the ants and gave Ms. Searile medication for pain and itching.   Ms. Searile was discharged from Mercy Regional a few days later.   

Ms. Searile filed a lawsuit against Mercy Regional, asserting the hospital knew or should have known of the ant infestation and should have taken reasonable steps to eliminate the bugs. Mercy Regional filed a motion for summary judgment stating that Ms. Searile could not show that the hospital was negligent in any manner and that the lawsuit should be dismissed entirely. The Thirteenth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Evangeline agreed with Mercy Regional and dismissed the case.    Ms. Searile appealed to the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal.   

forklift_machine_crane_1645850-scaledWorkers’ compensation is a financial support system that may be available to injured employees. It aims to ensure employees are compensated for their injuries and do not bear the entire expenses of medical bills. Workers’ compensation laws differ from state to state. Still, the general idea is that employees can get benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury so long as the injury arose from an act during employment. 

While workers’ compensation provides employees a safety net, not all claims fall under the statutory regime. Sometimes plaintiffs, like David Lindsay,  believe that their injury might result from an intentional act by their employer, which could allow for a more significant damage award. Those workers will try to file their workplace accidents as intentional tort claims. The following case from the First Circuit in Louisiana discusses how employees try to recover damages outside of Workers’ Compensation benefits for their injuries on the job. It also helps answer the question, when can I file a tort claim against my employer if I am hurt at work in Louisiana?

David Lindsay was an employee at Packaging Corporation of America (PCA), where he operated forklifts as part of his duties. He suffered severe injuries when the forklift he was driving slipped and fell off a loading dock. This accident lodged his left forearm between a railcar and the safety cage on the forklift. 

slip_up_danger_careless-scaledSlip-and-fall cases are prevalent in the restaurant industry. In handling various kinds of food and drink, it makes sense that sometimes, things end up on the floor and can cause a slip hazard for customers. But when a customer falls without a clear cause, how can the court determine who is at fault?

Laurita Guillory sued Barco Enterprises (“Barco”), owner of The Chimes Restaurant, after a fall at their restaurant. Guillory alleged that, when visiting the restaurant, she slipped and fell by the wait station. She claimed that a mysterious substance was spilled on the floor by the restaurant waitstaff, and it caused her fall. With these allegations, Guillory filed a lawsuit under the Merchant Liability Statute.

Based on the assertion that Guillory failed to prove her allegation sufficiently, Barco filed a motion for summary judgment and supported it with several documents and affidavits. These documents included testimony from Guillory that she never saw anything spilled on the floor by the waitstaff and a manager’s affidavit stating that nothing on the floor could have caused a fall. The trial court granted the motion because Guillory failed to show that the restaurant had caused a dangerous condition or knew about a hazardous situation. Guillory appealed the trial court’s decision dismissing her lawsuit. 

louisiana_arrows_art_students-scaledImagine going shopping at your local Wal-Mart or other store and slipping and falling because there is standing water. You might think you can recover from the store for your injuries. However, simply showing that you slipped and fell is not enough to win in court. Rather, you must present sufficient evidence about the store’s involvement and knowledge of the unsafe conditions. 

Bethany Dubroc entered a Walmart in Pineville, Louisiana, while it was raining. While reaching for a prescription in her wallet, Dubroc slipped and fell. After she fell, Dubroc noticed that there was water on the floor. Dubroc sued Wal-Mart in the District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. 

Walmart moved for summary judgment, arguing Dubroc’s case should be dismissed because Dubroc did not provide evidence that Walmart either created or had actual or constructive knowledge of the water that allegedly caused Dubroc to slip and fall. In response, Dubroc argued that employees at Walmart did not follow Walmart’s Inclement Weather Policy. This Inclement Weather Policy required that Wal-Mart employees every fifteen minutes and wipe down wet shopping carts every fifteen minutes. However, for the hour before the time Dubroc fell, no Wal-Mart associate mopped the area where she fell or wiped down the shopping carts. Dubroc presented evidence, including surveillance video, deposition testimony, and witness statements. However, none of this evidence provided insight into how long the water had been on the floor at Wal-Mart prior to Dubroc’s fall. 

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