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Hayes v. Sheraton Operating Corp.

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

December 10, 2014

ERICA CASTLE HAYES, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NATURAL TUTOR OF THE UNEMANCIPATED MINOR CHILD, UNIQUE HAYES
v.
SHERATON OPERATING CORPORATION, THE SHERATON LLC, STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS WORLDWIDE, INC., CANAL STREET HOLDINGS, INC., CONNIE ADDISON, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NATURAL TUTOR OF THE UNEMANCIPATED MINOR CHILD, ARIANNE ADDISON, CULLEN HOWARD, III, AND ORLEANS PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

Page 1194

APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH. NO. 2012-05055, DIVISION " F" . Honorable Christopher J. Bruno, Judge.

Jessica W. Hayes, MURRAY LAW FIRM, New Orleans, LA, FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.

Roy J. Rodney, Jr., RODNEY & ETTER, LLC, New Orleans, LA, FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.

(Court composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Dennis R. Bagneris, Sr., Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins).

OPINION

Page 1195

[2014-0675 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] Plaintiffs filed suit against defendant, Orleans Parish School Board, seeking damages arising out of her daughter's rape, which occurred off campus and after the end of the school year. Plaintiffs appeal the trial court's judgment granting Orleans Parish School Board's motion for summary judgment, dismissing them from the suit, while reserving plaintiffs' claims against the remaining defendants. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Appellant, Erica Hayes, individually and on behalf of her minor child, Unique Hayes,[1] alleges that her daughter was raped in a stairwell on May 21, 2011, while attending a party celebrating the end of the school year. The party was held at the Sheraton Hotel and was hosted by a classmate's mother. Appellant alleges that her daughter, a freshman at Warren Easton Charter High School (" Warren Easton" )[2] at the time of the incident, was continuously bullied and harassed by other students while at school. Appellant contends that despite reporting the [2014-0675 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] bullying and harassment to the proper school personnel, neither Warren Easton nor Orleans Parish School Board (" OPSB" ) took any action against the offending students. As a result of the May 21, 2011 incident, appellant filed suit on May 20, 2012 against

Page 1196

a number of defendants, including OPSB, claiming that OPSB is liable for her daughter's rape because it was negligent in preventing the bullying and harassment of its students, ensuring that a school crisis management plan was implemented, and properly supervising its students.

OPSB filed a motion for summary judgment on January 30, 2014, contending that appellants could not establish their burden of proof at trial. The trial court heard the motion on March 14, 2014 and found that no genuine issues of material fact existed as the rape happened off campus and no evidence was produced showing OPSB knew or should have known that the incident would occur. Accordingly, the trial court granted OPSB's motion for summary judgment, dismissing them from the suit, while reserving appellants' claims against the remaining defendants. It is from this ruling that appellants now appeal.

LAW AND ANALYSIS

Appellants' first three assignments of error, which will be addressed together, pertain to whether the trial court erred in granting OPSB's motion for summary judgment because discovery was ongoing, OPSB did not meet its burden of proof, and a reasonable jury could find OPSB liable. Appellants' fourth and ...


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