United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
L. Hornsby U.S. Magistrate Judge
Harris, an 82-year-old woman with vision problems, was
shopping at a Kroger store on Barksdale Blvd. in Bossier City
when she visited the restroom, which was located in an
employee breakroom in the back of the store. After leaving
the bathroom, and just after she exited the breakroom, Mrs.
Harris fell and broke her right arm. She and her husband
filed suit against Kroger in state court and alleged that her
fall was caused by a flatbed stocking cart that was parked
outside the breakroom door.
removed the case based on diversity jurisdiction. All parties
filed written consent to have the case decided by the
undersigned magistrate judge, and the matter was referred
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Before the court is
Kroger's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 11). The
motion will be granted because, as explained below, Harris
does not have proof that the stocking cart caused her fall.
Harris, age 82, visited the Kroger store on Barksdale Blvd.
in Bossier City with her husband, Thomas Harris. Mrs. Harris
testified that she has vision problems and has been receiving
vision-related disability benefits since 1980. She has
received four cornea transplants in her left eye, and she
drives only in an emergency. She testified that she does not
have significant problems with her right eye.
entry to the only restrooms in the Kroger store was outside
of the normal shopping area. To get to the restrooms, a
customer had to walk through a set of double doors into what
the parties call a back room. Photographs indicate that it is
predominantly a stockroom or warehouse type area that
contains several crates and racks that hold boxes of
products. The customer enters through the double doors and
must walk about 20 feet straight ahead before turning left,
through an open doorway, into the employee breakroom. The
customer restrooms are accessible from the breakroom. The
manager testified that these are the only restrooms in the
store, customers are allowed to use them, and they routinely
of the doorway into the breakroom show a Coca Cola vending
machine against the wall to the immediate right of the door.
To the immediate left of the door (the side from which Mrs.
Harris would have approached the doorway as she entered the
breakroom) there was a rack against the wall that held some
boxes. The stocking cart at issue was parked immediately in
front of the rack. The cart is a flat metal bed, about eight
inches off the ground, with about a three feet tall handle on
the end of the cart that was nearest the doorway. The rack
and the cart did not protrude into the doorway, but they were
snug against its left side, as the vending machine was snug
against the right side.
Mrs. Harris walked through the double doors, she saw Bobby
Merritt, a Coca Cola employee who was servicing the vending
machine. She asked Merritt where the bathrooms were located,
and he pointed her to the breakroom area. Merritt testified
in an affidavit that he saw Mrs. Harris walk past the
stocking cart (on her left), which was parallel to the wall
and against the rack, and turn left into the breakroom. He
said that it appeared she had on some kind of sunglasses.
Mrs. Harris left the breakroom on her way back to the store,
she took a right turn as she exited the breakroom door. She
testified that she “took a few steps” and,
“The next thing I know, I am lying flat on my face on
the floor.” She said that she fell forward but, to her
knowledge, she did not hit anything other than the floor on
her way down. The following exchange occurred during a
discussion of the cause of the fall:
Q Did you hit anything on the way down or before you fell?
A Just the floor.
Q Do you know what it was that caused you ...