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Guillory v. Christus Health Central Louisiana

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

May 11, 2017

KIM A. GUILLORY
v.
CHRISTUS HEALTH CENTRAL LOUISIANA, ET AL.

         APPEAL FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO. 226, 541 HONORABLE THOMAS M. YEAGER, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Steven W. Harris Rebecca Boyett Harris Law Firm COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Kim A. Guillory.

          Philip G. Hunter Hunter & Beck COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Kim A. Guillory.

          Brandon A. Sues Sarah Spruill Couvillon Gold, Weems, Bruser, Sues & Rundell COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Christus Health Central Louisiana.

          Judith M. Williams Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Estate of George Washington Thompson.

          Court composed of John D. Saunders, Phyllis M. Keaty, and John E. Conery, Judges.

          JOHN D. SAUNDERS, JUDGE

         This appeal arises from a slip and fall case where Plaintiff fell on Defendant's premises. Plaintiff pursued a suit against Defendant and was granted Partial Summary Judgment regarding Defendant's liability based on Defendant's Admissions. Defendant had previously filed a Motion to Withdraw and Amend these admissions but its motion was denied. It is from this denial and the granting of Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment that Defendant appeals.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

         On January 9, 2006, Kim A. Guillory, hereinafter "Plaintiff, " was injured after he slipped and fell on a ramp on CHRISTUS Health Central Louisiana's premises, hereinafter "Defendant, " at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital. Plaintiff was walking on the sloped ramp of the sky bridge when he slipped and fell.

         On December 20, 2006, Plaintiff filed a Petition for Damages. Thereafter, Plaintiff submitted Requests for Admissions of Fact to Defendant with an incorrect accident date. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a First Supplemental and Amended Petition for Damage on or about January 21, 2013, amending the original Petition with the correct date of the accident, January 9, 2006.

         On June 13, 2012, in their Responses to Plaintiff's First Set of Requests for Admissions, Defendant admitted that Plaintiff fell in water at Cabrini Hospital, that the source of the water was under its control, and that the water was a result of mopping the ramp area. Video footage revealed a custodian employed by Defendant mopping the ramp and removing the warning signs upon completion of the mopping minutes prior to Plaintiff's fall.

         During the course of discovery, Defendant answered the First Set of Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents and Requests for Admission on June 13, 2012, August 13, 2012, and September 28, 2012. Plaintiff made four requests over the course of the discovery phase to Defendant to supplement their discovery requests, specifically on September 12, 2012, and January 21, 2013, to Jeremy Cedars, the prior counsel of record, and again on April 24, 2013, and June 30, 2015, to Brandon Sues, the current counsel of record.

         Based on the timeline before the court, nearly three years passed from the time the Defendant answered Plaintiff's First Set of Requests for Admissions to when Defendant attempting to amend its responses to those requests. Moreover, over nine years passed from the time of the accident and Defendant's attempt to amend its responses.

         Next, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion in Liminie to exclude Defendant's expert. On April 14, 2016, Defendant served Plaintiff with Amended Answers to Discovery with different responses and admissions than those previously submitted on June 13, 2012, August 13, 2012, and September 28, 2012. Defendant attempted to amend its prior responses to Requests for Admissions on April 15, 2016. Defendant also filed an Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Defendant filed a Motion to Withdraw and Amend on April 28, 2016.

         On May 13, 2016, a hearing was held on Defendant's Motion to Amend its prior Responses to Requests for Admissions. The trial court denied this motion. Next, the trial court held a hearing on Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, which was subsequently granted.

         After Plaintiff filed a Motion for New Trial, Defendant filed writ applications with this court asserting assignments of error for both the trial court's granting of Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as well as the denial of Defendant's Motion for Court Approval to Permit Withdrawal to Amend Prior Responses and Requests for Admissions. This court denied both writ applications.

         On August 8, 2016, a hearing was held on Plaintiff's Motion for New Trial on the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, which was denied and an order signed on August 22, 2016. Defendant filed a Motion for Devolutive and/or Suspensive Appeal on September 1, 2016, which was granted on September 6, 2016. Defendant asserts the following four assignments of error.

         ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR:

1. The Trial Court abused its discretion in denying Cabrini Hospital's Motion for Court Approval to Permit Defendant to Withdraw and Amend Responses to Plaintiff's First Set of Requests for Admissions where the admissions were clearly incorrect when made, are no longer true based on new evidence, and where no evidence of any prejudice to the plaintiff was presented.
2. The Trial Court committed legal error in granting the Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment where clear genuine issues of material fact exist.
3. The Trial Court committed legal error in granting Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment because it did not dispose of all issues of liability, i.e., plaintiff's comparative fault.
4. The Trial Court committed legal error in granting Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment by relying solely on defendant's prior incorrect Responses to Requests for Admissions and Unverified Interrogatory Answers and failing to consider Defendant's Verified Supplemental and Amending Interrogatory Answers and expert opinion.

         DISCUSSION ...


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