Appealed from the 19th Judicial District Court n and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana Trial Court No. C637615
Honorable Wilson Fields, Judge
A. ROZAS PAUL J. TANNER BATON ROUGE, LA ATTORNEYS FOR
PLAINTIFF -APPELLEE TORSOR TOUSSAINT
COURTENAY SIMMONS CRAIG J. SABOTTKE BATON ROUGE, LA ATTORNEYS
FOR DEFENDANT -APPELLANT BATON ROUGE GENERAL MEDICAL CENTER
L. ALBUM SUZANNE M. GANUCHEAU METAIRIE, LA ATTORNEYS FOR
DEFENDANT -APPELLEE HOSPITAL HOUSEKEEPING SYSTEMS, LLC
BEFORE: GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, AND CRAIN, JJ.
case involving a slip and fall in a hospital, the hospital
appeals a trial court judgment in favor of the plaintiff. For
the following reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
19, 2014, Torsor Toussaint accompanied her mother to Baton
Rouge General Medical Center's Bluebonnet Campus
("BRGMC") for medical services. Mrs. Toussaint and
her mother entered the hospital through the emergency room
entrance and proceeded down a hallway towards the admissions
desk. At some time prior to their arrival, a spill was
discovered on the floor near the admissions desk, and
BRGMC's housekeeper, Lakeysha Franklin, was sent to mop
the spill. After Ms. Franklin located the spill, set up a
"wet floor" sign, and began mopping, Mrs. Toussaint
and her mother entered the admissions area from behind Ms.
Franklin, walked to their right around the area being mopped
by Ms. Franklin, and stopped at the admissions desk. After
mopping, Ms. Franklin repositioned the "wet floor"
sign within the area she had just mopped and left the area.
After checking in at the admissions desk, Mrs. Toussaint and
her mother sat down in a waiting area across from the
admissions desk. Less than a minute later, Mrs. Toussaint
stood back up and began walking back down the hall towards
the emergency room entrance, this time passing on the
opposite side of the mopped area. After walking past the
"wet floor" sign placed by Ms. Franklin, Mrs.
Toussaint slipped and fell in what she later described as
"an excessive amount of water on the floor, "
striking her right knee on the floor and allegedly sustaining
Toussaint filed a petition for damages for the injuries she
sustained in the slip and fall against BRGMC, as well as the
contractor that manages BRGMC's housekeeping department,
Hospital Housekeeping Services, LLC ("HHS"). After
the bench trial in this matter began, Mrs. Toussaint settled
her claims against HHS for $2, 500.00, reserving her rights
against BRGMC. After the conclusion of the trial, the trial
court ruled in favor of Mrs. Toussaint, finding that BRGMC
did not do enough to warn the public of the wet floor. The
trial court allocated one hundred percent of the fault for
Mrs. Toussaint's injuries to BRGMC, and awarded Mrs.
Toussaint special damages of $6, 900.40, general damages of
$15, 000.00, and deposition costs of $1, 500.00. BRGMC filed
a suspensive appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in
finding that BRGMC was negligent, in not allocating any
comparative fault to Mrs. Toussaint or HHS, and in awarding
an excessive amount of general damages for Mrs.
legislature has not specifically addressed the burden of
proof applicable in a slip-and-fall claim against a hospital.
Consequently, jurisprudence addressing the burden placed on a
hospital is not affected by the statute governing merchant
liability for slip-and-fall claims found at La. R.S.
9:2800.6. See Terrance v. Baton Rouge Gen. Med.
Ctr., 10-0011, pp. 3-4 (La.App. 1 Or. 6/11/10), 39 So.3d
842, 844, writ denied, 10-1624 (La.
10/8/10), 46 So.3d 1271. Because the hospital is not a
"merchant, " we must examine the hospital's
duty in light of the facts of this case under a negligence
theory of liability.
negligence standard, a hospital owes a duty to its visitors
to exercise reasonable care for their safety, commensurate
with the particular circumstances involved; but the duty owed
is less than that owed by a merchant. Mrs. Toussaint must
show that she slipped, fell, and was injured because of a
foreign substance on the hospital's premises. The burden
then shifts to the hospital to exculpate itself from the
presumption of negligence by showing that it acted reasonably
to discover and correct the dangerous condition reasonably
anticipated in its business activity. The trial court must
consider the relationship between the risk of a fall and the
reasonableness of the measures taken by the hospital to
eliminate the risk. Smith v. Northshore Reg'l Med.
Ctr., Inc., 14-0628, pp. 3-4 (La.App. 1 Or. 1/26/15),
170 So.3d 173, 176; Terrance, 10-0011, p. 4-5, 39
So.3d at 844. The determination of whether the measures taken
by the hospital to eliminate the risk were reasonable is a
question of fact. See Osorio v. Target Corp. of
Minnesota, 11-1761, 2012WL3443333, p. 3 (E.D. La.
court's findings of fact will not be disturbed on appeal
unless the appellate court finds they are clearly wrong or
manifestly erroneous. Stobart v. State through Dept. of
Transp. & Dev., 617 So.2d 880, 882 (La. 1993). The
appellate court may not reverse the trial court even if the
appellate court determines it would have weighed the evidence
differently if sitting as the trier of fact, as long as the
trial court's findings are reasonable in light of the
entire record. Id. at 882. Where two permissible
views of the evidence exist, the fact finder's choice
between them cannot be manifestly erroneous. Id. at
argues on appeal that Mrs. Toussaint did not carry her burden
of proving that she slipped and fell in a foreign substance
on the floor. Although BRGMC concedes that a small spill was
discovered in the admissions area hallway just prior to Mrs.
Toussaint's fall, they argue that this does not imply
that the entire eighteen-foot-wide hallway was wet. In
addition to testimony from Mrs. Toussaint and Ms. Franklin
about the condition of the floor on the date of the accident,
the trial court also viewed the BRGMC surveillance video of
the events at issue in ...