from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 20112730 Honorable
Bernard Scott Leehy, Judge
OFFICE OF ANTHONY J. BRUSCATO, APLC By: Anthony J. Bruscato
Counsel for Appellants Glenn A. Chesney and Cindy Chesney.
TAYLOR, WELLANS, POLITZ, DUHE, APLC By: Terri M. Collins By:
Charles J. Duhe, Jr. Counsel for Appellant Waste Management
of Louisiana, L.L.C.
BLANCHARD & NASH By: Eric D. Burt Counsel for Appellee
Copeland Electric Company, L.L.C.
PITMAN, STONE, and BLEICH (Pro Tempore), JJ.
and Cindy Chesney, along with Waste Management of Louisiana,
L.L.C., appeal the trial court's ruling granting summary
judgment in favor of Copeland Electric Company, L.L.C., and
dismissing the Chesneys' action. For the following
reasons, we affirm.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
August 31, 2010, Glenn Chesney ("Chesney") arrived
at the Magnolia Landfill ("the landfill") hauling a
removable trash container on a 10-wheel flatbed truck owned
by his employer, Waste Management of Louisiana, L.L.C
("Waste Management"). Due to a power outage, the
weigh scale at the landfill was not working, and truck
drivers had to wait in line for the scale to reopen. While
waiting in the line of trucks that had formed along the
entrance road on the landfill property, Chesney decided to
untarp his load so he could unload faster once he got to the
front of the line.
truck was equipped with an automatic tarp system that covered
his container during transport. The tarp system was attached
to the truck with movable mechanical arms. During operation
of the system, the arms extended vertically 17 feet 12 inches
above the ground. After Chesney activated the mechanical arms
to lift the tarp, the arms extended into the air and came
into contact with an uninsulated overhead power line.
Contemporaneously, electricity was restored to the power
lines, and electricity flowed through the truck and
electrocuted Chesney. The electrical shock caused Chesney to
suffer severe injuries.
August 31, 2011, Chesney and his wife, Cindy Chesney
(collectively referred to as "Plaintiffs"), filed
suit against Copeland Electric Company, L.L.C.
("Copeland") and Entergy Electric Company
("Entergy"). In their petition, Plaintiffs identified
Copeland as the electrical contractor who installed the power
lines. According to Plaintiffs, the overhead power lines,
designed and installed in 1994, had an initial clearance of
20 feet above the ground. However, due to the passage of
time, the power lines began to sag downward and at the time
of the accident were only 13.5 to 15 feet above the ground at
their lowest point. Plaintiffs claimed Copeland negligently
caused Chesney's injuries for the following reasons: 1)
Copeland installed and maintained defectively designed and/or
manufactured overhead power lines; 2) Copeland installed and
maintained power lines too close to the ground and to
traversing traffic, trucks, workers, and equipment; 3)
Copeland failed to raise and/or relocate the power lines when
it knew or should have known of the characteristics of truck
traffic at the landfill; 4) Copeland failed to properly
inspect the overhead power lines; 5) Copeland failed to
adequately warn Waste Management of the dangers associated
with the ultrahazardous overhead power lines, either at the
time of construction or thereafter; 6) Copeland failed to
warn of the consequences of contact with the high voltage
line; and 7) Copeland failed to take any reasonable steps to
eliminate, minimize, or warn of the danger.
September 26, 2011, Waste Management intervened in the suit
to recover worker's compensation payments it made to
Chesney as a result of the accident. Thereafter, Copeland
filed an exception of peremption arguing Plaintiffs'
claims should be dismissed pursuant to La. R.S. 9:2772
("Section 9:2772"), which provides a 10-year
peremptive period for actions related to construction of an
improvement to immovable property. Copeland asserted it was
hired by Waste Management to design and construct the
overhead electrical lines in the early 1990s. The structure
was completed in 1994. Copeland argued that since more than
10 years had elapsed since the system's construction,
Plaintiffs' cause of action was barred by peremption. In
opposition to Copeland's exception, Plaintiffs argued
that some of the wrongful acts they complained of were
considered "post-construction negligence" and were
outside the scope of the peremption statute.
trial court agreed with Copeland and found Plaintiffs'
construction-related claims were perempted by Section 9:2772.
Additionally, as to Plaintiffs' remaining claims for
post-construction negligence, the trial court found
Plaintiffs failed to establish Copeland owed a duty to Waste
Management or its employees, except for limited matters that
Copeland was hired to do over the intervening years. The
trial court sustained Copeland's exception of peremption
and dismissed Plaintiffs' action.
appeal, this Court affirmed the trial court's finding
that Plaintiffs' construction related claims are
perempted by Section 9:2772. However, this Court concluded
the trial court improperly dismissed Plaintiffs'
post-construction negligence claims under the procedural
posture of an exception of peremption when summary judgment
was the appropriate vehicle to adjudicate those issues.
Chesney v. Entergy La., L.L.C., 49, 816 (La.App. 2
Cir. 05/27/15), 166 So.3d 1204. The matter was remanded for
further proceedings on the post-construction negligence
remand, Copeland moved for summary judgment. Copeland claimed
the undisputed facts demonstrated Plaintiffs would not be
able to prove Copeland owed them or Waste Management a duty
to discover, protect against, or warn of the allegedly
hazardous power line. In response, both Plaintiffs and Waste
Management argued an electrical professional, like Copeland,
has a legal duty to report any electrical hazard that it
observes on a customer's premises, even where there is no
explicit contract to do so.
considering the law and evidence, the trial court granted
summary judgment, finding Copeland owed no duty to inspect,
notify, and/or warn Waste Management of a potentially
hazardous condition as it related to the overhead power
lines. The trial court dismissed Plaintiffs' and Waste