Premises Liability – Case Results

Hazel Martin v. Piggly Wiggly of Independence and The Republic Group
(August 2015)

Devin Fadaol obtained a defense verdict on liability in a lawsuit alleging multiple herniated discs throughout the lumbar spine and a surgery recommendation as a result of a slip-and-fall in a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. The plaintiff failed to meet her burden of proof on the temporal element of constructive notice, or that store employees created the allegedly hazardous condition.  The plaintiff also failed to prove that an employee in the vicinity of the defective condition was sufficient to establish liability.   Plaintiff filed a Motion for New Trial which was denied.

 

Mary Boyd v. Winn Dixie
(July 2015)

 Devin Fadaol and Meghan Shumaker won a victory for Winn Dixie Montgomery, LLC, in a personal injury lawsuit alleging herniated discs to the lumbar spine as a result of a slip and fall in Jefferson Parish.    Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the basis that an employee had just passed through and inspected the area within minutes before the plaintiff fell.   The trial court judge held that plaintiff did not meet her burden of proving the temporal element required under the constructive notice statute.  The court granted Winn Dixie’s Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissed all of the plaintiff’s claims.

 

Jorge A.  Espinosa v. Accor North America, Inc., Et Al.
(July 2015)

Michael R. Sistrunk, Heather M. Nagel, and Lynda A. Tafaro secured a summary judgment in favor of Accor Franchising North America, LLC n/k/a G6 Hospitality LLC (hereinafter “G6 Hospitality”), which was upheld on appeal by the Louisiana Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  In Espinosa, the plaintiff was rendered a paraplegic after he was shot in the motel parking lot by unknown third-party assailants. The subject motel was owned and operated by a third-party franchisee, pursuant to a franchise agreement awarded by G6 Hospitality.  The plaintiff filed suit against G6 Hospitality and the franchisee alleging that the defendants failed to provide a safe and secure premises because there was a broken gate that enabled the gunmen to enter the parking lot.  The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment in favor of G6 Hospitality finding that it did not owe a duty to the plaintiff.  The  Louisiana Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s decision, holding that G6 Hospitality did not owe a duty to the plaintiff pursuant to the doctrines of direct negligence, actual authority or apparent authority.  The appeal court reasoned that G6 Hospitality was not at fault because it did not own the subject motel and did not exercise control over the day-to-day operations.  Additionally, the court found that the broken gate did not constitute an unreasonably dangerous condition. There were numerous avenues of entry that the gunmen could have gained access to the property, including the front entry that was open at the time of the shooting.  G6 Hospitality did not have a duty to protect the plaintiff from the criminal acts of third-parties.

Marlene Shanks v.  Winn Dixie
(March 2015)

Devin Fadaol and Heather N. Shockley obtained summary judgment for Winn Dixie Montgomery, LLC, in a personal injury lawsuit alleging multiple injuries from an alleged slip and fall in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The plaintiff claimed that she encountered a substance on the ground in one of the aisles, causing her to slip and injure her knee, back, and various other parts of her body.  The incident was partially captured on in-store video footage.   Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment using the video footage to show that there was no notice of any substance on the ground, and no injury-causing event that could have lead to any possible damages.   The trial court judge in Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans granted Winn Dixie’s Motion for Summary Judgment, dismissing all of the plaintiff’s claims.

Sylvia Richard v. Cameron Parish School District
(May 2014)

Lance B. Williams recently obtained summary judgment on behalf of the Cameron Parish School Board and Republic Insurance Company.  Plaintiff alleged a premises defect in the Grand Lake School Gymnasium.  Ms. Richard tripped and fell while working in the concession stand, causing serious injuries to her wrists, shoulders and head.  She underwent carpal tunnel releases in both wrists and sought ongoing medical treatment for cervical and neurological injuries.  Mr. Williams presented evidence that the condition which allegedly caused plaintiff’s accident was not under the control of the school board, but instead was controlled by an independent organization which ran the concession area.  Further, the court concluded that the condition was open and obvious to plaintiff and other workers in the concession stand.  Accordingly, all claims were dismissed.

 

Tyron Eastwood v. Niblett’s Bluff Park Authority and Southern Insurance Company
(April 2014)

 Michael Sistrunk, Devin Fadaol and Lynda Tafaro won a victory for The Republic Group in this personal injury lawsuit alleging multiple injuries and surgeries to the legs, hip and lower back as a result of a slip and fall at the Niblett’s Bluff Park.   Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking dismissal of all of Plaintiff’s claims pursuant to Louisiana’s Recreational Use Immunity statutes, La. R.S. 9:2791, et seq.  The trial court originally granted the Motion for Summary Judgment, then reversed itself in a rehearing.  After the Louisiana Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the denial of Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants took a writ to the Louisiana Supreme Court.  The Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously granted the writ application and granted the Motion for Summary Judgment, concluding that Defendants are immune from liability pursuant to the Recreational Use Immunity Statue.

Debbie Wallace v. JP Morgan Chase Bank
(November 2013)

Devin Fadaol and Lannie Milliman won a victory for JP Morgan Chase Bank in this wrongful arrest lawsuit.  The plaintiff claimed that JP Morgan Chase Bank was negligent in calling the police after a co-defendant informed JP Morgan Chase Bank that the check being presented by plaintiff to open a business account was invalid.  Judge Wilson Fields in Baton Rouge denied the Motion for Summary Judgment, but the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Fields and granted the writ application, dismissing plaintiff’s case against JP Morgan Chase Bank.   The First Circuit held that the plaintiff failed to produce factual support sufficient to establish that they will be able to satisfy their evidentiary burden of proof at trial, and that the bank official’s communications to the police were protected by an conditional privilege or qualified immunity.

John and Casie Dekerlegand v. John Arton d/b/a/ Chick-fil-A of I-10 at Louisiana Avenue FSU, et al
(November 2013)

15th Judicial District Court, Lafayette Parish – Peter J. Wanek and Trevor C. Davies defended Chick-fil-A in a premises liability case wherein the plaintiffs claimed employees mopped and failed to post caution wet floor signs.  The plaintiff claimed he suffered a disabling lower back injury which required epidural steroid injection and trigger point injection therapies for the remainder of his life.  Plaintiffs also presented claims for past lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and loss of consortium.  Past medical expenses claimed were approximately $60,000 for nearly five years of treatment including ongoing treatment at the time of trial.  Plaintiffs alleged economic losses and future medical treatment in excess of $1 million dollars.  Plaintiffs asked the jury to award $1.54 million.  Result – Defense verdict.

 

Ella Crosby v. Cajun Operating Co./Church’s Chicken
(August 2013)

USDC, Eastern District of LA – Plaintiff claimed that she slipped and fell as a result of an employee mopping and that no caution wet floor signs were posted to warn her of the condition.  Plaintiff claimed an aggravation of a pre-existing lower back condition which required surgery.  Jury deliberated three hours before rendering a defense verdict finding that the plaintiff did not prove that she fell in the restaurant.  Lead defense counsel – Peter J. Wanek

 

Judith Scimeca v. JP Morgan Chase Bank
(February 2013)

Devin Fadaol and Lannie Milliman won a victory for JP Morgan Chase Bank and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company in this personal injury lawsuit. Devin Fadaol successfully argued in the Motion for Summary Judgment hearing that: (1) there is no liability for the neighboring landowner/tenant for accidents occurring just outside of a high rise building on a municipal sidewalk; and (2) the neighboring landowner/tenant does not have a duty to repair, warn or inspect municipal property regardless of its proximity to a neighboring high rise building.  Judge Janice Clark in Baton Rouge granted the MSJ dismissing Chase Bank and Liberty Mutual from the lawsuit.

Edith Harang v. Winn Dixie (Tangipahoa Parish; Amite, Louisiana)

In July of 2012, Devin Fadaol and Heather Nagel won a victory for Winn Dixie Montgomery, LLC, in a premises liability lawsuit involving a plaintiff that tripped on an entrance mat at the front of the grocery store. The plaintiff alleged closed-head injuries and cognitive decline, allegedly the result of a “bunched up” entrance mat. Through the use of in-store video footage, we argued that there was no dangerous condition involving the entrance mat as evidenced by the numerous other customers that walked past the same area immediately before the plaintiff. The trial court judge granted Winn Dixie’s MSJ and dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit holding that plaintiff failed to meet her burden of proof that defendants created a defective condition.