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James v. Eldorado Casino Shreveport Joint Venture

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

November 15, 2017

TERRY LACARL JAMES Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
ELDORADO CASINO SHREVEPORT JOINT VENTURE, ELDORADO SHREVEPORT #1, LLC, and ELDORADO SHREVEPORT #2, LLC Defendants-Appellees

         Appealed from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Bossier, Louisiana Trial Court No. 149, 335 Honorable Michael O. Craig, Judge

          TERRY L. JAMES Pro Se.

          BLANCHARD, WALKER, O'QUIN & ROBERTS, APLC By: W. Michael Adams Jerry Edwards Brian C. Flanagan Counsel for Appellees.

          Before PITMAN, STONE, and BLEICH (Pro Tempore), JJ.

          PITMAN, J.

         Plaintiff Terry LaCarl James appeals the judgment of the trial court which sustained the exception of no cause of action filed by Defendants Eldorado Casino Shreveport Joint Venture, Eldorado Shreveport #1, LLC, and Eldorado Shreveport #2, LLC (collectively, "the Eldorado"), and which dismissed Plaintiff's suit. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         FACTS

         On February 22, 2015, Plaintiff, a resident of Minden, Louisiana, parked his car in the garage across the street from the Eldorado hotel in Shreveport and then checked into the hotel for a two-night stay. He came to Shreveport to seek refuge from an ice storm which had been predicted for the area. He gambled in the Eldorado casino the first night and spent the night in his room. The next morning, he allegedly went back to the casino to gamble; however, he encountered a waitress who was rude to him. He lodged a complaint with the waitress's supervisor and decided to return to his room. A hotel security officer met him and accused him of "picking up people's player's cards" and of lying to the security officer about being in the casino earlier that day. The security officer gave Plaintiff three choices: (1) he could leave the casino voluntarily; (2) he could be forcibly evicted from the property; or (3) he could be arrested and thrown in jail. Plaintiff chose to leave the hotel voluntarily.

         Although the State Police warned people not to travel on an icy and dangerous I-20 unless absolutely necessary, Plaintiff left the Eldorado hotel, drove his car out of the garage and began traveling on I-20 heading east toward Minden. He lost control of his car and ran off the Interstate near mile marker 34 in Bossier Parish and crashed his car into the steel cable barrier on the left side of the Interstate in the median.

         Plaintiff filed suit against the Eldorado, claiming that his accident on the Interstate and the resulting damages were caused by the Eldorado employees. His petition alleged that the Eldorado was liable to him since it intentionally forced him to leave the property when weather and road conditions were very dangerous, it failed to exercise reasonable care to protect him from exposure to the dangerous road conditions, it intentionally exposed him to those hazardous road conditions and it intentionally breached its contract with him, since he checked into the hotel for a two-night stay for the express purpose of avoiding travel in the winter weather.

         The Eldorado filed a peremptory exception of no cause of action and argued that it had no duty to protect Plaintiff from the harm alleged in the petition. It asserted that it had no duty to protect a person from any danger he encountered after leaving the premises of the hotel. Because there was no duty to protect him from dangerous weather conditions on a state highway, or to protect him from his own decision to drive despite the inclement weather, it sought dismissal of Plaintiff's suit through the exception of no cause of action.

         The trial court sustained the exception, dismissing Plaintiff's suit against the Eldorado. Plaintiff appeals the decision of the trial court.

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in finding the Eldorado had no duty to him when it caused him to leave the premises in an ice storm. He asserts that the Eldorado had a duty to provide him with a safe haven from the ice storm since his main reason for traveling to Shreveport was to spend the night at the hotel. He claims that, but for his being told to leave the hotel, he would not have ventured onto the icy highway and would not have been ...


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