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Haynie v. Twin Oaks Nursing Home, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

November 15, 2017

DEMETRIS HAYNIE AND CURTIS YOUNG, SR.
v.
TWIN OAKS NURSING HOME, INC. AND ANNIE ALFORD

         ON APPEAL FROM THE FORTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 64, 636, DIVISION "C" HONORABLE J. STERLING SNOWDY, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, DEMETRIS HAYNIE AND CURTIS YOUNG, SR. Pete Lewis Barrett R. Stephens Sarah D. Call.

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, TWIN OAKS NURSING HOME Guy C. Curry Douglas R. Kraus Laura C. Cocus.

          Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Jude G. Gravois, and Robert A. Chaisson

          SUSAN M. CHEHARDY CHIEF JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs, Demetris Haynie and Curtis Young, Sr., appeal the summary judgment dismissing their suit for injuries against defendant, Twin Oaks Nursing Home, Inc. For the following reasons, we vacate and reverse the summary judgment.

         Facts and Procedural History

         On April 4, 2012, Annie Alford, co-defendant herein, while working as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Twin Oaks Nursing Home in LaPlace, struck her supervisor, Demetris Haynie. According to the record before us, Ms. Haynie, as the supervisor, approached Ms. Alford to instruct her to report to Ms. Haynie's office. When Ms. Haynie turned around, Ms. Alford attacked her from behind, striking her three to four times in the head and neck. When questioned by the authorities, Ms. Alford, who had been written up for prior work-related problems, reported that she "knew they were going to fire me so I gave them a damn good reason to." Ms. Haynie suffered bruises, scratches, a black eye, and soft tissue injuries.

         On March 21, 2013, Ms. Haynie filed suit against Ms. Alford and their employer, Twin Oaks Nursing Home, Inc. (hereinafter "Twin Oaks") for the damages that she sustained. On July 27, 2016, Twin Oaks filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that Twin Oaks is not vicariously liable for Ms. Alford's actions. The matter was heard on September 22, 2016 and taken under advisement. In an Order dated September 28, 2016, the trial judge granted the motion and dismissed the petition against Twin Oaks. In that Order, the trial judge opined that Ms. Haynie failed to establish that the tortious act was primarily employment rooted and that the action was not incidental to the performance of Ms. Alford's duties:

The likelihood that a subordinate (while feeding an aged patient in the employer's cafeteria) would leave a patient and repeatedly strike her supervisor is simply not a risk fairly attributable to the performance of the employee's duties. The subordinate's duties do not include severely attacking a supervisor or any other employee. Likewise, it is not foreseeable for the employer to foresee such conduct on the job-site [sic] during working hours. Alford's actions were therefore not reasonably incidental to the performance of her employment.

         On October 13, 2016, the trial judge issued a judgment, reiterating its earlier dismissal and declaring the judgment final under La. C.C.P. art. 1915.

         On appeal, Ms. Haynie raises four assignments of error: first, the trial court erred in failing to conclude that remaining genuine issues of material fact prohibit summary judgment in this case; second, the trial court erred in determining that there were no genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the altercation at issue was employment rooted; third, the trial court erred in determining that there were no genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the altercation at issue was reasonably incidental to the performance of the employee's duties; and fourth, the trial court erred in drawing a conclusion on the predominant motive of the tortfeasor, Annie Alford. In essence, Ms. Haynie argues that this matter was not ripe for summary judgment.

         Law and Discussion

         Appellate courts review summary judgments de novo using the same criteria that govern the district court's consideration of whether summary judgment is appropriate. Guillory v. Interstate Gas Station, 94-1767 (La. 3/30/95), 653 So.2d 1152; Reynolds v. Select Properties Ltd., 93-1480 (La. 4/11/94), 634 So.2d 1180. A motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the motion, memorandum, and supporting documents show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact and that the ...


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