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Deville v. Fred's Stores of Tennessee, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

April 21, 2017

ADAM DEVILLE AND JOYCE DEVILLE
v.
FRED'S STORES OF TENNESSEE, INC.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE PEREZ-MONTES

          ORDER

          DEE D. DRELL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         RULING

         Before the Court is the motion of defendant Fred's Stores of Tennessee ("Fred's"), for summary judgment. (Doc. 23). All responsive pleadings have since been filed (Docs. 25, 26), and the matter is ready for disposition. For the following reasons, Fred's Motion for Summary Judgment will be GRANTED.

         I. Background and Procedural History

          Fred's removed this suit pursuant to diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1332. (Doc. 1, p. 1). Adam and Joyce Deville ("Plaintiffs") filed the original action on February 13, 2015 in the 12th Judicial District Court (Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana), which was subsequently removed by Fred's alleging complete diversity between the parties as Fred's is incorporated in Tennessee and Plaintiffs are domiciled in Louisiana. (Doc. 1, p. 2). Fred's also urged that Plaintiffs claim damages in excess of $75, 000, fulfilling the monetary requirement for diversity jurisdiction.

         This suit arises out of an accident that occurred in a Fred's Store located in Bunkie, Louisiana. (Doc. 1-2, p. 1). The undisputed facts are few. On May 15, 2015, Mr. Deville was walking in the Fred's store when he slipped and fell on something wet on the floor. Id. After he fell, a bottle of Pine Sol with a missing lid was found on a nearby shelf. (Doc. 23-1, p. 1). Mr. Deville claims he suffered personal injuries as a result of Fred's negligence or fault under Louisiana's Merchant Liability statute, La. R.S. 9:2800.6. (Doc. 1-2, p.l). Additionally, Mrs. Deville makes a loss of consortium claim under L.S.A. Civil Code 2315. (Doc. 1-2, p. 2).

         Fred's filed this motion for summary judgement claiming Plaintiffs cannot carry their burden of establishing that Fred's created or had actual or constructive notice of the spill at the time of the accident. (Doc. 23). Plaintiffs have opposed Fred's motion for summary judgement (Doc. 25) and Fred's timely replied (Doc. 26), completing the record with all necessary briefs.

         Having carefully considered the motion, supporting documents, and briefs, we find the following:

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

          A court "shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). If the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant need not disprove every element of the non-movant's case; rather, the movant can satisfy his burden by pointing to the absence of evidence to support the non-movant's case. Little v. Liquid Air Corp.. 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). Further, we consider "all evidence in the light most favorable to the party resisting the motion." Seacor Holdings, Inc. v. Commonwealth Ins. Co., 635 F.3d 675, 680 (5th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations omitted). In this analysis, we review facts and draw all inferences most favorable to the nonmovant; "[h]owever, mere conclusory allegations are not competent summary judgment evidence, and such allegations are insufficient, therefore, to defeat a motion for summary judgment." Eason v. Thaler. 73 F.3d 1322, 1325 (5th Cir. 1996). It is important to note that the standard for a summary judgment is two-fold: (1) there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and (2) the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         B. Applying Louisiana's Merchant Liability Statute

          Louisiana's merchant liability "slip and fall" statute governs Plaintiffs claims. The Plaintiffs' burden of proof is set forth in the Louisiana Merchant Liability ...


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