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Dupont v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 6, 2018

LISA DUPONT
v.
COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION, ET AL.

         SECTION: "S" (2)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARY ANN VIAL LEMMON, UNITE AR STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #31) is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This matter is before the court on defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant, Costco Wholesale Corporation, argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because plaintiff, Lisa Dupont, cannot prove all of the elements necessary to recover for her alleged slip and fall, specifically, she cannot prove that Costco had actual or constructive knowledge of the water on the floor.

         Dupont filed this action against Costco in the Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, alleging that she was injured when she slipped and fell inside Costco's store in New Orleans, Louisiana. Costco removed the action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana alleging that this court has diversity subject matter jurisdiction over the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, because there is more than $75, 000 in controversy and the named parties are completely diverse. After conducting discovery, Costco filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that it is entitled to judgment in its favor because Dupont cannot prove that Costco had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition that allegedly caused Dupont's fall.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Summary Judgement Standard

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the "court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Granting a motion for summary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits filed in support of the motion demonstrate that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509-10 (1986). The court must find "[a] factual dispute . . . [to be] 'genuine' if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party . . . [and a] fact . . . [to be] 'material' if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing substantive law." Beck v. Somerset Techs., Inc., 882 F.2d 993, 996 (5th Cir. 1989) (citing Anderson, 106 S.Ct. at 2510).

         If the moving party meets the initial burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence of the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Celeotex Corp. v. Catrett, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). The non-movant cannot satisfy the summary judgment burden with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc). If the opposing party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party does not have to submit evidentiary documents properly to support its motion, but need only point out the absence of evidence supporting the essential elements of the opposing party's case. Saunders v. Michelin Tire Corp., 942 F.2d 299, 301 (5th Cir. 1991).

         II. Costco's Motion for Summary Judgment

         Louisiana Revised Statutes § 9:2800.6, which establishes the burden of proof in slip and fall cases brought against merchants, provides:

A. A merchant owes a duty to persons who use his premises to exercise reasonable care to keep his aisles, passageways, and floors in a reasonably safe condition. This duty includes a reasonable effort to keep the premises free of any hazardous conditions which reasonably might give rise to damage.
B. In a negligence claim brought against a merchant by a person lawfully on the merchant's premises for damages as a result of an injury, death, or loss sustained because of a fall due to a condition existing in or on a merchant's premises, the claimant shall have the burden of proving, in ...

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