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Fuselier v. Wal-Mart Stores, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

April 4, 2018

DONNA FUSELIER
v.
WAL-MART STORES, LLC

          RULING AND ORDER

          JOHN W. deGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Wal-Mart Louisiana, LLC.[1] (“Motion, ” Doc. 12). Plaintiff Donna Fuselier has filed an Opposition, (Doc. 14), and Defendant has filed a Reply in further support, (Doc. 20).

         For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is denied.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On or about February 27, 2016, Plaintiff slipped and fell in a puddle of pink liquid while shopping at a Wal-Mart store in Zachary, Louisiana. (Doc. 1-2 at 1; Doc. 12-2 at 18-19). Plaintiff did not see the liquid before falling. (Doc. 1-2 at 1; Doc. 12-2 at 11-12). Plaintiff does not know how the liquid got on the floor or what the substance was, and she did not see open containers in the area. (Doc. 12-2 at 20-21). During her deposition, Plaintiff testified that she was unable to determine how the liquid got on the floor even after viewing video footage of the fall and that the only tracks in the liquid were made by Plaintiff's own shopping cart. (Id. at 21, 23). Plaintiff has “no clue” whether any Wal-Mart employee knew that the substance was on the floor, and she did not see any “wet floor” or “caution” signs in the area. (Id. at 12, 21).

         II. DISCUSSION

         a. Standard

         “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). If the mover bears his burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of fact, “its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . [T]he nonmoving party must come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-587 (1986) (internal citations omitted). The non-mover's burden is not satisfied by “conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a ‘scintilla' of evidence.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations and internal quotations omitted). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587. Further:

In resolving the motion, the court may not undertake to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes; so long as the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury drawing all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor, the court must deny the motion.

International Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991).

         b. Section 2800.6

         Louisiana Revised Statute Section 9:2800.6 governs this case because Plaintiff seeks recovery for injuries resulting from a fall occurring due to a condition existing on Wal-Mart's premises. (Doc. 12-1 at 3-5). Section 2800.6 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 addition to all other elements of his cause of action, all of the following:
(1) The condition presented an unreasonable risk of harm to the claimant and that risk of harm was ...

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