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Truxillo v. La. Stadium & Exposition Dist.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

May 13, 2015

KENNETH L. TRUXILLO
v.
LOUISIANA STADIUM AND EXPOSITION DISTRICT, ABC INSURANCE COMPANY, SMG, DEF INSURANCE COMPANY, MARDI GRAS PRODUCTIONS, INC., AND XYZ INSURANCE COMPANY

APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH. NO. 2011-11262, DIVISION " D" . Honorable Melvin C. Zeno, Judge.

Scott A. Decker, Law Offices of Scott A. Decker, Metairie, LA; J. Nelson Mayer, III, VALTEAU, HARRIS, KOENIG & MAYER, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.

Matthew D. Monson, Donald J. Latuso, THE MONSON LAW FIRM, Mandeville, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.

(Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Paul A. Bonin, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu). BELSOME, J., CONCURS IN THE RESULT WITH REASONS.

OPINION

Page 80

[2014-0363 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] Madeleine M. Landrieu, Judge

 The plaintiff, Kenneth Truxillo, appeals the trial court's judgment granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Mardi Gras Productions, Inc. (" MGP" ). For the reasons that follow, we reverse the trial court's judgment.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW

Mr. Truxillo filed a petition for damages alleging that he was injured while walking in Champions Square during pre-game festivities held in connection with the New Orleans Saints-Cleveland Browns football game. Champions Square is an outdoor entertainment area adjacent to the Mercedes Benz Superdome. It is customary for vendors to set up food and beverage booths in the Square and for music and other activities to be provided to the public's enjoyment in advance of football games and other sporting events.

In his petition, Mr. Truxillo alleges that at 11:30 a.m on October 24th, he was walking toward a food line under a tent in the Square when " suddenly and without warning, what appeared to be a large stucco column that was not secured, yet placed in front of the tent, fell over and struck [him] on the head, causing injuries and damages..." Mr. Truxillo named several defendants in his suit: The [2014-0363 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED) which owns the Superdome[1]; SMG, a company which operates the Superdome, the New Orleans Arena and the property on which they are located; Mardi Gras Productions (MGP), the company that owned the stucco-brick column that is alleged to have fallen on the plaintiff; and Centerplate, a food and beverage service provider with whom MGP contracted for services on the day in question. Mr. Truxillo claims in his lawsuit that MGP was the production company for the event at Champion Square on the day he was injured and that it owned and installed the stucco-brick column that fell on him causing his injuries. He claims

Page 81

that this column created an unreasonably dangerous condition.

MGP filed a motion for summary judgment in which it argued that it was not liable for Mr. Truxillo's injuries because it neither had custody, control, or garde over the area where the stucco-brick column allegedly hit Mr. Truxillo, nor over the stucco-brick column itself at the time the injuries occurred. MGP did not raise, in its motion for summary judgment, any issue relative to whether the plaintiff could prove that the column in question was defective or whether the column, as installed, created an unreasonable risk of harm. The sole basis for the its motion for summary judgment is MGP's contention that it did not have custody, control or garde of either the column or the area and had no responsibility for the installation of the column.[2]

Mr. Truxillo opposed the motion on grounds that material issues of fact existed regarding whether MGP installed, erected or dismantled the columns; [2014-0363 La.App. 4 Cir. 3] whether MGP failed to provide any instructions, guidelines or procedures for the installation, erecting, dismantling of the columns and whether MGP failed to properly ensure that the columns would be safely installed, erected or dismantled.

Following a contradictory hearing, the trial court granted the motion in favor of MGP. In its reasons for judgment, the trial court stated:

As it relates to Mardi Gras Production, the Court is satisfied that this party does not belong in this case. The evidence satisfies us. There are no issues of material fact in dispute. That they are, in fact, the party who delivered to Centerplate in this case. They had no continuing custody or garde over the items, the decorative items, and therefore, they should not be a party in this case. And we grant the Motion for Summary Judgment as to them alone.

This appeal ...


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