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Holden v. Mike's Catfish Inn, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

February 27, 2018

JACKIE HOLDEN
v.
MIKE'S CATFISH INN, INC. AND MASSACHUSETTS BAY INSURANCE COMPANY

         On Appeal from the Twenty-First Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Tangipahoa State of Louisiana No. 2016-001876 The Honorable Jeffery S. Johnson, Judge Presiding

          Cassandra Butler Independence, LA Attorney for Plaintiff/ Appellant Jackie Holden

          Leon A. Crist Metairie, LA Attorney for Defendants/ Appellees Mike's Catfish Inn, Inc. and Massachusetts Bay Insurance Company

          BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, JJ.

          HOLDRIDGE, J.

         The plaintiff, Jackie Holden, appeals a summary judgment dismissing her tort claim against her employer, Mike's Catfish Inn, Inc., and its insurer, Massachusetts Bay Insurance Company. We affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On July 14, 2015, Ms. Holden, an employee of Mike's Catfish Inn, was clocked in and working in the kitchen, when she was notified by another employee that her daughter called the restaurant and was waiting outside in the parking lot to see her. Mike's Catfish Inn permitted its employees to take breaks while on the time clock. Ms. Holden's daughter parked her car within feet of the back door of the restaurant. As Ms. Holden exited the back door of the restaurant and proceeded toward her daughter's vehicle, she fell on a concrete slope adjacent to the restaurant door and injured herself. Ms. Holden reported the accident to her employer before leaving for the emergency room. Ms. Holden was admitted to the emergency room at Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center and was diagnosed with a broken left kneecap. Ms. Holden was discharged from the emergency room that night, but was advised that she needed surgery. Approximately fifteen days later, Ms. Holden had surgery on her left kneecap at Cypress Pointe Hospital.

         On July 8, 2016, Ms. Holden filed a petition for damages against defendants[1] alleging that her injuries were caused by the negligence of Mike's Catfish Inn in failing to remove the foreign substance on the step which caused her to fall. Defendants answered the petition denying all allegations and asserted that Ms. Holden was in the course and scope of her employment at the time of the accident and that her exclusive remedy was in accordance with the Louisiana's Workers' Compensation Act, La. R.S. 23:1032. On February 6, 2017, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment alleging that there remained no genuine issues of material fact and that they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Defendants submitted a statement of uncontested material facts which provided that Massachusetts Bay Insurance Company was the commercial general liability insurer for Mike's Catfish Inn at the time of Ms. Holden's accident and it did not provide workers compensation coverage. It further stated that Ms. Holden was paid workers' compensation benefits in a settlement in the amount of $10, 000.00 as a result of the July 14, 2015 accident.

         After a hearing on defendants' motion for summary judgment, the trial court found that the accident occurred during the course and scope of Ms. Holden's employment, stating in oral reasons "Mike's Catfish [Inn] is [not] individually liable ... that is what they have worker's comp[ensation] for." The trial court signed a judgment in accordance with its ruling on April 3, 2017, dismissing Ms. Holden's claims against defendants with prejudice. Ms. Holden appeals.

         DISCUSSION

         In her sole assignment of error, Ms. Holden argues that the trial court erred in granting defendants' motion for summary judgment because there remains a genuine issue of material fact as to whether she was in the course and scope of her employment when the accident occurred.

         Summary judgments are reviewed de novo under the same criteria that govern the district court's consideration of whether summary judgment is appropriate. Marcaurele v. City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge, 16-0915 (La.App. 1 Cir. 2/17/17), 214 So.3d 968, 971, writ denied, 17-0464 (La. 5/1/17), 221 So.3d 72. A motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the motion, memorandum, and supporting documents show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. La. C.C.P. art. 966(A)(3). The initial burden of proof is on the mover. If the moving party will not bear the burden of proof at trial, the movant's burden on the motion does not require him to negate all essential elements of the adverse party's claim, action, or defense, but rather to point out that there is an absence of factual support for one or more elements essential to the adverse party's claim, action, or defense. Thereafter, the nonmoving party must produce factual support sufficient to establish that he will be able to satisfy his evidentiary burden at trial. If the nonmoving party fails to make this requisite showing, there is no genuine issue of material fact, and summary judgment should be granted. La. C.C.P. art. 966(D)(1).

         Generally, when an employee seeks to recover from her employer for injuries suffered during the course and scope of employment, recovery is limited in accordance with the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act, which provides for the employee's exclusive rights and remedies against the employer for such injury and provides immunity from civil liability in favor of an employer. La. R.S. 23:1032; see Cole v. State Department of Public Safety & Corrections, 01-2123 (La. 9/4/02), 825 So.2d 1134, 1138. Under the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act, employers are responsible for compensation benefits ...


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