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Guillory v. The Chimes and/or Barco Enterprises, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

December 21, 2017

LAURITA LARUE GUILLORY
v.
THE CHIMES AND/OR BARCO ENTERPRISES, INC.

         On Appeal from The 19th Judicial District Court, Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana Trial Court No. C643502 The Honorable R. Michael Caldwell, Judge Presiding

          Lindsey J. Leavoy Neil H. Mixon Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for Plaintiff/ Appellant, Laurita Larue Guillory

          Brad J. Brumfield Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorney for Defendant/ Appellee, Barco Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a The Chimes Restaurant

          BEFORE: GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, AND CRAIN, JJ.

          CRAIN, J.

         The plaintiff appeals a summary judgment dismissing her slip-and-fall claim. We affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Laurita L. Guillory was a customer in a restaurant when she allegedly slipped and fell while returning to her table from the restroom. She filed suit against the owner of the restaurant, Barco Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a The Chimes Restaurant, alleging she slipped on a "foreign, wet, and slippery substance" on the floor by the serving area, sometimes referred to as the "waitstation, " where employees of Barco pick up food and drinks to take to customers' tables. According to the petition, the slippery substance "was spilled on the floor from the serving trays carried by defendant [Barco's] servers."

         Barco filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a dismissal of the claim, asserting Guillory could not meet her burden of proof under Louisiana Revised Statute 9:2800.6, the Merchant Liability Statute. In support of the motion, Barco submitted several exhibits, including an affidavit of the manager on duty at the time of the accident, Michelle Colby, who attested she investigated the incident and found nothing visible on the floor to cause the fall. Barco also introduced excerpts from Guillory's deposition, wherein she testified she never saw any food or drink fall on the floor in the serving area. Guillory also confirmed she did not encounter any slippery substance on the floor on her way to the restroom. When returning to her table, she did not see anything on the floor either before or after she fell. After she fell, she did not notice anything wet on any part of her body. When asked why she fell, Guillory offered the following:

It had to have been because - it had to have been something slippery from the liquor or the food because that's where everything comes from right there .... They must have spilled something and it was slippery and wet there. I don't know.

         In opposition to the motion, Guillory cited this testimony as proof that a slippery substance was on the floor. She also submitted an affidavit from her daughter, Carol G. Rowe, who attested she walked to the same restroom shortly after the accident and noticed a "wet floor" sign in the area by the waitstation where her mother fell. That fact, according to Guillory, is also proof that a slippery substance was on the floor. Guillory also introduced an answer to an interrogatory, which tracks the language of the petition and states Guillory slipped and fell "in, on, and/or because of a foreign, wet, and/or slippery substance on the floor near the 'waitstation.'" The answer further provides Guillory "believes the substance was from the food and/or drinks servers served to customers."

         The trial court granted the motion, finding "no proof that there was an unreasonably dangerous condition either created by the restaurant or having been present for such a period of time that the restaurant should've had constructive notice of its existence." A judgment was signed that granted the motion for summary judgment and dismissed Guillory's claims with prejudice. Guillory appeals.[1]

         DISCUSSION

         After an opportunity for adequate discovery, 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 mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. La. Code Civ. Pro. art. 966A(3). The summary judgment procedure is favored and shall be construed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action. La. Code Civ. Pro. art. 966A(2). In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, appellate courts review evidence de novo under the same criteria that ...


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