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Fabre v. West Baton Rouge Parish Council

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit

November 6, 2014

PATRICK FABRE
v.
WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH COUNCIL AND PARISH OF WEST BATON ROUGE

APPEALED FROM THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, IN AND FOR THE PARISH OF WEST BATON ROUGE, STATE OF LOUISIANA. DOCKET NUMBER 40,057, DIVISION A. HONORABLE JAMES J. BEST, JUDGE.

Willie G. Johnson, Jr., Chad A. Aguillard, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorneys for Plaintiff/Appellee, Patrick Fabre.

James L. Pate, Sara Rodrigue, Lafayette, Louisiana, And Louis W. Delahaye, Plaquemine, Louisiana, Attorneys for Defendants/Appellants, West Baton Rouge Council, the Parish of West Baton Rouge, and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company.

BEFORE: PETTIGREW, McDONALD, AND McCLENDON, JJ.

OPINION

[2013 0551 La.App. 1 Cir. 2] McDONALD, J.

In this case, the plaintiff, Patrick Fabre, worked as a corrections deputy at the West Baton Rouge Parish Correctional Center. On April 25, 2012, Mr. Fabre filed a petition for damages, naming as defendants the West Baton Rouge Parish

Page 672

Council, the Parish of West Baton Rouge, and Travelers Indemnity Company, liability insurer for West Baton Rouge Parish. Mr. Fabre asserted that on May 8, 2011, he was conducting a security check near dorms F and G when he slipped on several substances, fell, and was injured. Mr. Fabre maintained that defendants knew or should have known of the substances on the floor, but failed to exercise reasonable care to remove and warn of the hazard, and that he suffered painful and disabling injuries from the fall. He prayed for damages for physical pain and suffering, mental pain, anguish, and distress, medical expenses, physical disabilities and impairment, loss of enjoyment of life, lost income, and loss of earning capacity.

The defendants answered the petition, generally denied the allegations, and further, asserted that the accident was caused partially or wholly by the negligence and fault of Mr. Fabre. The defendants maintained that they only provided funding for the West Baton Rouge Parish Detention Center, and were not liable for the actions of the sheriff or his deputies, and that they were immune from suit for the actions of the West Baton Rouge Sheriff or his deputies. Defendants also pled the limitation on damages in La. R.S. 13:5106; invoked the statutory privilege of La. R.S. 13:5105 prohibiting trial by jury; pled the limitation on legal interest and court costs in accordance with La. R.S. 13:5112; pled the right to have any judgment awarding plaintiffs damages structured in accordance with La. R.S. 13:5114; and further, affirmatively pled the limitations of liability for public bodies under La. R.S. 9:2798.1 [2013 0551 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] and 9:2800.

Additionally, the defendants filed a peremptory exception raising the objection of no cause of action, asserting that the suit should be dismissed because West Baton Rouge Parish was not responsible for overseeing the West Baton Rouge Parish Detention Center or for setting policies and procedures for its operation.

Thereafter, Mr. Fabre filed a motion for partial summary judgment asserting that the West Baton Rouge Parish Council owned the facility where he was injured, the premises were defective and constituted an unreasonable harm which was preventable, and the West Baton Rouge Parish Council, through its employee Dean Gentile, had actual or constructive knowledge of the unreasonably dangerous condition that caused his injury. West Baton Rouge Parish and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company[1] filed a motion for summary judgment asking that the suit be dismissed.

On February 27, 2013, the district court signed a judgment granting Mr. Fabre's motion for summary judgment, finding West Baton Rouge Parish and the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office solidarily liable for Mr. Fabre's injuries, " assuming causation and damages can be proven." On March 28, 2013, the district court signed an amended judgment granting Mr. Fabre's motion for summary judgment, finding liability (but omitting solidary liability language contained in the original judgment) against the West Baton Rouge Council, the Parish of West Baton Rouge, and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, and denying the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The defendants filed an application for [2013 0551 La.App. 1 Cir. 4] supervisory writs challenging the denial of their motion for summary judgment. The defendants also appealed the judgment

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 insofar as it granted Mr. Fabre's motion for ...


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