United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
21) filed by Defendants, PNK (Baton Rouge)
Partnership and Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. seeking the
dismissal of all claims brought by Plaintiff, Deborah Martin
pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Plaintiff filed an Opposition. (Doc. 27). Defendants then
filed a Reply. (Doc. 30). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a
Sur-Reply. (Doc. 33). The Court has jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332. For the following reasons, the
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 21) is
25, 2016, Plaintiff was exiting the Bon Temps Buffet.
("Buffet") at L'Auberge Casino & Hotel
Baton Rouge ("L'Auberge") when she slipped
on water on the floor, which she described, not as a puddle,
"but  more of a square" in shape, and
approximately 60% of the length of a driver's license.
(Doc. 21-1 at ¶ 1; Doc. 21-2 at p. 44).
Plaintiff did not notice the water until after her fall, and
observed the water for the first, time while on the ground.
(Doc. 21-1 at ¶¶ 2-4; Doc. 21-2 at pp. 41, 51, 55).
Video surveillance ("the video") establishes that
no water or any other liquid/substance was spilled or dropped
at least 19 minutes prior to Plaintiffs fall. (Doc. 26 at
21:00-21:19). The video further establishes that, without
incident, exactly 37 patrons and/or employees passed through
and over the exact area in the exit lane where Plaintiff
fell. (Id.). In the moments after Plaintiffs fall,
Defendants' employees placed a yellow "Wet
Floor" sign near the area, and used a white towel to
wipe the floor in the exact location where Plaintiffs foot is
shown to slip. (Id. at 21:20, 21:23).
filed her Petition in state court on November 7, 2016, which
was removed to federal court on December 12, 2016. (Doc. 1).
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are liable under
Louisiana's Merchant Liability Statute, La. Rev. Stat.
9:2800.6, for damages caused by her slip and fall, which
occurred on Defendants' premises. (Id.).
judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the
movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."
Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[W]hen a properly supported motion
for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quotation marks and footnote
determining whether the movant is entitled to summary
judgment, the Court "view[s] facts in the light most
favorable to the non-movant and draw[s] all reasonable
inferences in her favor." Coleman v. Houston Indep.
Sch. Dist., 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997) (citing
Brothers v. Klevenhagen, 28 F.3d 452, 455 (5th Cir.
1994)). At this stage, the Court does not evaluate the
credibility of witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve
factual disputes. Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v.
Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991),
cert denied, 502 U.S. 1059 (1992). However, if the
evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury,
drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party,
could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor, the
motion for summary judgment must be denied. Int'l
Shortstop, Inc., 939 F.2d at 1263.
summary judgment is appropriate if, "after adequate time
for discovery and upon motion, [the non-movant] fails to make
a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to that party's case, and on which that party
will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Summary
judgment will lie only "if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on fde, together
with affidavits if any, show that there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact, and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Sherman v.
Hallbauer, 455 F.2d 1236, 1241 (5th Cir. 1972).
Merchant Liability Under Louisiana Law
argue that Plaintiff has no evidence that anyone employed at
LAuberge had either actual or constructive notice of an
unreasonably dangerous condition. (Doc. 21-5 at p. 3).
Defendants further argue that Beth Lafleur
("Lafleur"), the Assistant Manager of the Buffet,
was on duty on the date of Plaintiffs fall and that the first
notice that anyone from LAuberge had of an issue with the
exit lane was after Plaintiffs fall, which is evidenced by
the numerous people (37 to be exact) able to safely exit the
Buffet in the 19 minutes leading up to the fall-including
three people within the minute preceding the fall, without
incident, and that no one spilled any substance on the floor.
(Id.; Doc. 26 at 21:00-21:19).
argues that Defendants had constructive notice of the
condition because such "notice is imputed to defendants
due to the fact that the liquid hazard persisted on the floor
. . . for at least 19 minutes prior to" the fall. (Doc.
27 at p. 1). Plaintiff further argues that Defendants'
own manager, LaFleur, testified that neither she nor her
subordinates performed any visual sweeps or physical sweeps
of the exit lane at least 30 minutes to two hours before
Plaintiffs fall. (Doc. 33).
order to establish merchant liability for a slip and fall in
Louisiana, a ...