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Kennedy v. Red River Entertainment of Shreveport, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

December 13, 2017

DEBORAH KENNEDY Plaintiff-Appellant

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 589465 Honorable Ramon Lafitte, Judge

          LAW OFFICE OF ALAN STEGALL By: Patrick Alan Stegall Counsel for Appellant

          WEINER, WEISS & MADISON, APC By: Reid A. Jones John M. Madison, Jr. Counsel for Appellee

          Before WILLIAMS, STONE, and COX, JJ.

          WILLIAMS, J.

         The plaintiff, Deborah Kennedy, appeals a summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Red River Entertainment of Shreveport, L.L.C. d/b/a Sam's Town Hotel & Casino. For the following reasons, we affirm.


         The defendant, Red River Entertainment of Shreveport, L.L.C. d/b/a Sam's Town Hotel & Casino ("Sam's Town"), owns and operates a casino and 514-room hotel in Shreveport, Louisiana. On January 17, 2015, the plaintiff, Deborah Kennedy, was a guest in Room 1723 at the hotel. The plaintiff slipped and fell in the bathroom of her hotel room when she was startled by the presence of ants in and around the shower.

         On December 16, 2015, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Sam's Town, alleging that she was seriously injured as a result of her fall. More specifically, in her petition for damages, the plaintiff alleged as follows: the "hotel room and its bathroom were infested with ants, and ants were crawling in and around the shower area while [she] was in the shower"; the condition of the bath area presented an unreasonable risk of harm to her; the risk of harm was known, caused by and reasonably foreseeable to Sam's Town; Sam's Town "had actual notice and/or constructive notice of the dangerous condition of guestroom 1723"; and Sam's Town failed to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of its premises, which constituted a violation of La. C.C. arts. 2317, 2317.1 and/or 2322.

         On November 29, 2016, Sam's Town filed a motion for summary judgment, contending the plaintiff was unable to meet her burden of proving that it knew, or should have known, about the presence of ants in the hotel room and that it failed to exercise reasonable care. In support of its motion, Sam's Town attached excerpts from the plaintiff's deposition, in which she testified as follows: she did not see any ants in her hotel room or bathroom prior to getting into the shower; she entered the shower, turned the water on and turned around with her back facing the faucet and showerhead; when she turned back around, she noticed ants "everywhere"; she estimated that she had been in the shower for less than five minutes when she noticed the ants; she did not know how the ants entered the shower/bathtub; the shower wall and bathtub were "covered" with ants; she panicked and tried to exit the shower/bathtub; she slipped because she was wet and was "scrambling" to get out of the shower; after she fell, she got dressed and alerted housekeeping that she "had slipped and fell [sic] and to look at the ants in the bathroom and on the bed and everywhere"; the hotel assigned her to another room; she told the hotel staff that she was "in pain, kind of stiff"; the staff called emergency medical services ("EMS"); she allowed EMS to examine her, but she declined their offer to transport her to the hospital; the hotel staff assisted her in moving her belongings to another room; the hotel staff did not indicate that they were aware of any prior issues with ants; after she moved to her new room, she heard "several people" talking about "a bed bug infestation or something"; later that day, she left the hotel and continued with her "normal activities"; and she returned to the hotel later that night and "stayed the night there."

         Sam's Town also attached excerpts from the affidavit of Gary Thomas, its Security and Risk Manager, who attested as follows: the hotel's housekeeping staff was trained to inspect the hotel rooms for various conditions, including the presence of pests and/or insects; according to hotel policy, if any pests/insects were observed, the housekeeping staff was required to submit a "request for treatment"; at the time of the incident, Sam's Town had a pest control contract with Terminix; Sam's Town employees notified Terminix whenever a pest control issue was detected; when the plaintiff reported the presence of ants in her room, Sam's Town reported the issue to Terminix and reassigned the plaintiff to a different room; Terminix treated the room for insects/pests after the plaintiff moved to another room; there were no prior reports of ants in Room 1723; three days before the plaintiff's incident, Terminix had inspected Room 1723, in connection with an issue with Room 1823;[1] and Terminix did not report any findings of insects or ants in Room 1723.

         Additionally, Sam's Town attached a report that Terminix had completed on January 14, 2015. The report did not contain any indication that pests or insects were detected during the inspection of Room 1723. Sam's Town also attached an email from Paris Rainey, an employee of Terminix. In the email, Rainey stated that if Terminix had detected ants in Room 1723, the matter would have been reported to the management at Sam's Town.

         Further, Sam's Town attached a report submitted by Mitch Schenck, [2]its Director of Facilities. In the report, Schenck stated, "I was never informed of any issue in regards to Room 1723 by Terminix. This room was inspected as a surrounding room for [Room] 1823 treatment."

         In her opposition to the motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff attached excerpts from her deposition. In addition to the testimony noted above, the plaintiff testified that after she fell, she saw ants crawling on the beds in her hotel room.

         The plaintiff also attached excerpts from the two depositions of Gary Thomas. In the first deposition, Thomas testified as follows: during his investigation of the incident, he interviewed Schenck, Derrick Parker, the housekeeping manager, and Latonya Patterson, the manager of the food and beverage department; Patterson reported that there was no record that Sam's Town delivered food to the plaintiff's room; Schenck reported that he had not received any notice of any issue regarding ants prior to the plaintiff's incident; Parker reported that he did not have any records regarding any issues with Room 1723; the hotel security team that responded to the plaintiff's complaint observed the presence of ants in the room; he does not know how the ants entered Room 1723; the hotel had a contract with Terminix to perform pest control services on an "as needed" basis; when the hotel staff detected a pest control issue, the hotel contacted either its maintenance department or Terminix; the contract with Terminix did not provide for routine, monthly pest control treatment; and Terminix inspected Room 1723 three days before the incident, but did not treat the room for insects/pests.

         During his second deposition, Thomas testified as follows: approximately 18 months before plaintiff's incident (August 5, 2013), the hotel received a report of ants in Room 1722 (located across the hall from Room 1723); three days before the plaintiff's incident, Room 1723 was inspected for pests in connection with a report of bed bugs in Room 1823; whenever bed bugs were reported, all surrounding rooms were inspected, including the rooms above and below the suspected room; when ants were reported, only the suspected room was inspected and treated; surrounding rooms were inspected in response to a bed bug issue because "bed bugs are more known to spread, you know, and create other issues in other rooms in a pretty quick time span"; and the day after the plaintiff's incident, ants were reported in Room 1623 and Room 1823, the rooms directly above and below Room 1723.

         Following a hearing, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Sam's Town, stating, "[I]nasmuch as the room on the 18th floor [was treated] for bed bugs and then later we have an ant problem, after inspection, I think [Sam's Town] did ...

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