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White v. Wal-Mart Louisiana LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

July 18, 2018





         Plaintiff Cleo Johnson White (“White”) brought this lawsuit against Wal-Mart Louisiana, LLC; Wal-Mart Associates, Inc.; Wal-Mart Realty Company; Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust; Wal-Mart Store, Inc.; Wal-Mart Stores East, LP; Wal-Mart Transportation, LLC; and Wal-Mart TRS, LLC seeking damages for an alleged slip and fall accident at the Wal-Mart store in Monroe, Louisiana. Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Defendants (“Wal-Mart”) [Doc. No. 19] on the issue of liability. Plaintiff White has filed an Opposition [Doc. No. 21]. For the following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. FACTS White originally filed her petition for damages in the Fourth Judicial District Court for Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, and it was subsequently removed to this Court. In her petition, White alleges that, on or about June 9, 2015, while shopping at the Monroe Wal-Mart store, she found herself falling to the floor, suddenly and without warning, as a result of her feet slipping on a substance on the floor in the area trafficked by customers of the store and employees alike. While on the floor attempting to get up with assistance from a relative, she observed close-up liquids or juices and a number of crushed grapes which appeared as if trampled and extended in and beyond the area and direction she was walking. At the time of the fall, she alleges several Wal-Mart employees wearing Wal-Mart uniforms were observed moving in and around the general area, stocking shelves and performing other activities. There were no warning signs of any type posted, nor wet floor warnings. She seeks damages for the injuries she suffered as a result of the fall, including injuries to her neck, right arm, right shoulder, right wrist, right hip, right thigh, right leg, right ankle and upper and lower back.

         White contends that Wal-Mart's failed to exercise reasonable care to keep its aisles and passageways and floors in a reasonably safe condition. She further contends that Wal-Mart knew or should have known the condition of the floor by reasonably diligent efforts to maintain the premises and had reasonable time to discover and eliminate the hazard and failed to do so.

         Wal-Mart now moves for summary judgment, asserting that White cannot sustain her burden of proof in this case. Wal-Mart argues that under Louisiana law, a plaintiff must establish not only the existence of a dangerous condition, such as a substance on the floor, but must also establish that the defendant either created the condition or had actual or constructive notice of the condition which caused the damage prior to the occurrence. Wal-Mart contends that White cannot satisfy this burden, and, as such, there is no genuine issue of material fact, and it is entitled to summary judgment, dismissing White's claims and demands with prejudice.

         White responds that her deposition testimony clearly establishes the grapes had been there a sufficient time before her fall because she testified she saw dirty spots in the grapes like someone had stepped in them.

         The motion is fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to rule.


         A. Standard of Review

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), A[a] party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which summary judgment is sought. 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."The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion by identifying portions of the record which highlight the absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian v. Ehrmann, 954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir. 1992); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1) (AA party asserting that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .). A fact is ''material" if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is ''genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         If the moving party can meet the initial burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Norman v. Apache Corp., 19 F.3d 1017, 1023 (5th Cir. 1994). In evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the Court must accept the evidence of the nonmovant as credible and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, “a party cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence.” Turner v. Baylor Richardson Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.)

         B. Analysis

         Louisiana Revised Statute 9:2800.6 governs slip-and-fall accidents in ...

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