United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
JUDGE KAREN L. HAYES
A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
motion is fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to rule.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Standard of Review
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.
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.)
Revised Statute 9:2800.6 governs slip-and-fall accidents