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Ledet v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 30, 2018

TOBIE LEDET ET AL.
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

         SECTION "L" (1)

          ORDER & REASONS

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. R. Doc. 39. Plaintiffs have responded in opposition. R. Doc. 40. Having considered the parties' arguments and the applicable law, the Court issues this Order & Reasons.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from injuries Plaintiff Tobie Ledet (“Mrs. Ledet”) sustained when exiting one of Defendant's, United States Postal Service (“USPS”), offices in Metairie, Louisiana. R. Doc. 1 at 1. Plaintiff brought this action under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Id.

         Mrs. Ledet alleges that she sustained personal injuries as a result of Defendant's negligence when she slipped and fell on the sidewalk outside Defendant's USPS office. R. Doc. 1 at 3. Mrs. Ledet claims Defendant was negligent by not ensuring that the walkway was appropriately textured and thereby causing her fall. Id. at 4. Mrs. Ledet also claims Defendant was negligent in failing to inspect, discover, maintain, and remedy the untextured walkway. Id. Mrs. Ledet claims she suffered a concussion, a disk herniation, and a shoulder tear that required surgery as a result of her alleged fall. Id. Plaintiff claims this case is governed by Louisiana law and that the doctrines of res ipsa loquitor and respondeat superior apply. Id. at 3.

         Mr. Ledet is also a Plaintiff in this case. Id. at 5. Mr. Ledet claims that he was forced to exhaust his sick and annual leave, he had to resort to leave without pay, and suffered loss of society damages as a result of Mrs. Ledet's alleged fall. Id.

         Defendant answers and denies all allegations made by Plaintiffs. R. Doc. 17 at 2-3. Defendant alleges that Plaintiff failed to state a cause of action. Id. at 3. Defendant also asserts the affirmative defenses of contributory/comparative negligence, Plaintiffs' failure to mitigate damages, and argues Plaintiffs' injuries were caused by an open and obvious condition, and that Mrs. Ledet's injuries were caused by preexisting or subsequent conditions. Id. Defendant argues that federal law limits Plaintiff's recovery for attorney fees, prejudgment damages and recovery against the USPS. Id. at 3-4.

         II. PENDING MOTION

         Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment with some requests in the alternative. R. Doc. 39. First, Defendant argues that the Court should grant summary judgment because Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that the sidewalk on which she fell was defective or that Defendant knew that it was defective. R. Doc. 39-1 at 1. Defendant alleges that Plaintiffs' expert on the sidewalk defect reaches “unsupported, conclusory opinions” because he only visually inspected the sidewalk and did not perform a slip resistance test. R. Doc. 39-1 at 6. On the contrary, Defendant's expert performed a slip resistance test and found that the sidewalk, even when wet, was “well above OSHA's minimum slip resistance.” R. Doc. 39-1 at 7. Therefore, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that the sidewalk where she fell was defective. Furthermore, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that Defendant had knowledge of any defect because 1) there was no defect and 2) there were no falls reported prior to Plaintiff's fall. R. Doc. 39-1 at 9. Additionally, Defendant suggests that Plaintiff's own negligence caused her fall because she was wearing slippery shoes. R. Doc. 39-1 at 9.

         Second, and in the alternative, Defendant moves to strike the testimony of Plaintiffs' treating physicians. R. Doc. 39. Defendant alleges that Plaintiffs' have failed to comply with the Federal Rules because they have not provided a disclosure for the treating physicians, listed as experts. R. Doc. 39-1 at 10. Therefore, Defendant argues, 1) the treating physicians should not be permitted to testify or 2) their testimony should be limited to lay testimony. R. Doc. 39-1 at 12.

         Third, and in the alternative, Defendant asks the Court to limit Plaintiffs' request for damages. R. Doc. 39. Defendant alleges that Plaintiffs filed an administrative claim in October 2014 asking for a sum certain of $181, 685.46. R. Doc. 39-1 at 12. Defendant argues that because 1) Plaintiffs have not shown any new information, 2) Plaintiffs knew the extent of the injuries in October 2014, and 3) Plaintiffs could have made out their worst case scenario in October 2014 the Court should limit Plaintiffs' damages to the sum certain requested in the administrative claim. R. Doc. 39-1 at 16. Plaintiff agrees that she is limited to the sum certain stated in the original administrative claim. R. Doc. 40 at 3.

         III. LAW & ANALYSIS

         a. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which the party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Id. A party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the basis for summary judgment and identifying those portions of the record, discovery, and any affidavits supporting the conclusion that ...


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