United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc.
53) filed by Defendant Winn-Dixie Montgomery, LLC
(“Winn-Dixie”). Plaintiff Louis Sonier
(“Sonier”) opposes this motion (Rec. Doc. 65) and
Defendant has replied. (Rec. Doc. 80). The motion, set for
submission on January 10, 2018, is before the Court on the
briefs without oral argument.
before the Court is a Motion to Adopt
Winn-Dixie's Motion for Summary Judgment with Respect to
the ADA Claims (Rec. Doc. 55) filed by H & L
Construction and Renovation, Inc. (“H & L”).
The Court has previously GRANTED H &
L's Motion to Adopt. (Rec. Doc. 87). Thus, H & L
adopts Winn-Dixie's Motion for Summary Judgment and
memorandum (Rec. Doc. 53) regarding the ADA allegations that
Plaintiff also asserted against H & L.
matter is set to be tried to a jury beginning on March 12,
2018. Having considered the motion and memoranda of counsel,
the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that
Winn-Dixie's motion should be GRANTED
for the reasons set forth below.
to his complaint, on July 7, 2016, Plaintiff Louis Sonier
visited the Winn-Dixie grocery store located at 5400
Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Rec. Doc.
1-1, p. 1, ¶ III). Because he is handicapped, Sonier
required use of the store's motorized handicapped
scooter. Once seated upon the scooter, Sonier proceeded to
the men's restroom. Sonier alleges that he entered the
men's restroom while still on the scooter and attempted
to drive the scooter into the handicapped stall. However,
Sonier's complaint contends the scooter would not fit
through the stall's doorway, forcing him to stand up and
walk into the stall without the assistance of the scooter.
Thereafter, Sonier alleges to have lost his balance and
fallen. This accident caused Sonier personal injuries and
damages, specifically, a fractured left hip necessitating a
hip replacement, a fractured left wrist, and permanent
disability requiring care. Id. at p. 2, ¶ V.
Sonier seeks damages for (1) past, present, and future
medical expenses, including custodial care, (2) pain and
suffering, (3) emotional stress and strain, (4) loss of
enjoyment of life, and (5) permanent residual disability.
Id. at ¶ VI.
other hand, Winn-Dixie contends to have uncovered evidence
that wholly undermines Sonier's allegations. To begin,
Winn-Dixie notes that on October 8, 2015- approximately nine
months before the alleged incident-BI-LO, LLC, a parent
company of Winn-Dixie, entered into a contract with H & L
Construction to renovate the restroom at Winn-Dixie's
Tchoupitoulas location-i.e., the men's restroom
at issue in the instant matter. (Rec. Doc. 53-1, p. 2).
Winn-Dixie points out that one of the primary project goals
was to make the restroom ADA compliant. Id. H &
L completed the work in December of 2015-approximately eight
months before Sonier's alleged accident. Winn-Dixie notes
the work performed by H & L did not involve any
structural changes to the restroom, but rather consisted of
replacing existing partitions and some of the restroom
rebutting Sonier's account of the incident, Winn-Dixie
highlights several statements Sonier made during a deposition
conducted by Winn-Dixie on September 15, 2017. (Rec. Doc.
53-9, p. 1). Winn-Dixie first points out that Sonier admitted
to visiting the Winn-Dixie store at issue approximately once
a month for the last five or six years. Id. at p.
13. Moreover, Sonier admitted to using Winn-Dixie's
motorized scooters each time he made a visit to
Winn-Dixie's Tchoupitoulas store. Id. Contrary
to the allegations provided in his complaint, Sonier admits
to driving the scooter into the handicapped restroom.
Id. at p. 16. In particular, Sonier provided the
following notable answers to Winn-Dixie's questions
during the deposition:
Q: Okay. Mr. Sonier, my question is: Did you drive the
scooter through the door into the bathroom?
A: I just said yes.
Q: Okay. So the scooter was actually inside the bathroom?
A: Yeah. I never get out of the scooter or off of the scooter
until I make an attempt to get on the commode.
Q: Can you-can you give me some understanding of where-how
far away were you from the stall when you stopped the
A: I was in the stall.
Q: You were able to drive the scooter all the way to the
A: Into the stall.
Q: Okay. So you got the scooter all the way into the stall?
Q: Okay. Then what happened?
A: I attempted to get off of the scooter and that's when
argues that Sonier's own statements show that the
accident, in fact, had nothing to do with the restroom being
handicap accessible. Additionally, Winn-Dixie's
questioning of Sonier brought to light allegations contrary
to those provided in Sonier's complaint. Specifically,
Sonier maintains that he fell in the restroom stall, but
rather than being caused by handicap accessibility problems,
the fall was caused by a 2 x 4 left near the commode within
the stall. Id. at p. 17. Sonier explained that while
attempting to transfer himself from his scooter to the
commode, he fell due to the 2 x 4 being in between him and
the commode. Id. However, Sonier goes on to state
that immediately after his fall a construction worker reached
through the restroom wall to remove the alleged 2 x 4. (Rec.
Doc. 53-9, pp. 16-18).
opposition to Winn-Dixie's motion, Sonier submits his own
signed affidavit, signed on December 27, 2017, which purports
that his fall might have been caused by the wooden handle of
a toilet plunger rather than the prior-alleged 2 x 4. (Rec.
Doc. 65-8). Attached to the affidavit is a photograph of the
restroom subject to this litigation. Id. at p. 2.
The photograph shows a toilet plunger with a wooden handle
lying on the restroom floor behind the commode. Id.
Sonier states the following in his affidavit:
1) The attached photograph of the Winn-Dixie bathroom stall
where I fell on July 7, 2016 accurately shows a toilet
plunger on the floor which has a wooden handle.
2) I recall that on July 7, 2016, an item such as this made
of wood obstructed my path and caused me to fall in the
bathroom stall of Winn-Dixie.
3) Having only been provided with this photograph today, I
was previously unable to recall exactly what the wooden item
obstructing my path was due to the extreme pain ...