United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
L. HAYES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant
Family Dollar Stores of Louisiana, Inc. (“Family
Dollar”). [doc. # 14]. The motion is opposed. [doc. #
16]. For reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.
and Procedural History
11, 2016, Plaintiff Teresa Glenn accompanied her friend into
a Family Dollar store in West Monroe, Louisiana, to purchase
a gallon of milk. As they were walking down an aisle,
Glenn's right knee bumped into a red sales rack, causing
her to lose her balance and fall to the ground. Glenn did not
slip on any substance on the floor, and there was nothing
obstructing Glenn's view of the rack.
11, 2017, Glenn filed a Petition for Damages in the Fourth
Judicial District Court, Parish of Ouachita, State of
Louisiana, against Family Dollar, to recover damages for the
injuries she suffered as a result of her fall. (Petition,
[doc. # 1-4]). Glenn claims her accident and resulting
injuries were caused by Family Dollar's negligence
because the position of the rack created either a hazardous
condition or an unreasonably unsafe condition that the
defendant knew or should have known about. (Id.
¶¶ 5-6). On January 11, 2018, Family Dollar removed
this case to federal court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (See Notice of
Removal, [doc. # 1]).
August 28, 2018, Family Dollar filed the instant motion for
summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56, to dismiss Glenn's claim in its entirety. [doc. #
14]. The motion contends that Glenn cannot demonstrate that
the sales rack over which she allegedly tripped created an
unreasonable risk of harm, a necessary element in her
negligence claim. (Id.). Glenn filed an opposition
to the motion on September 17, 2018. [doc. # 16]. Family
Dollar filed a reply on September 24, 2018. [doc. #
The matter is now ripe.
judgment is appropriate “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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if proof
of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of
the lawsuit under the 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.
party seeking summary judgment “bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if
any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247). Once the moving party
demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact,
the nonmoving party “must go beyond the pleadings and
designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial.” McCarty v. Hillstone Rest. Grp.,
Inc., 864 F.3d 354, 357 (5th Cir. 2017) (citations and
quotations omitted). This burden cannot be satisfied
“by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated
assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence.”
considering the evidence in a motion for summary judgment,
the court construes “all facts and inferences in favor
of the nonmoving party.” Deshotel v. Wal-Mart
Louisiana, L.L.C., 850 F.3d 742, 745 (5th Cir. 2017);
see Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (“The evidence
of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable
inferences are to be drawn in his favor.”). The court
will resolve factual disputes in favor of the nonmoving
party, “but only where there is an actual controversy,
that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of
contradictory facts.” McCarty, 864 F.3d at
358. The court will not assume without proof that the
nonmoving party could prove the necessary facts. Id.
In such a situation, there is no genuine issue as to a
material fact and the moving party is “entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law” because “a complete
failure of proof concerning an essential element of the
nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other
facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at
the Erie doctrine, federal courts sitting in
diversity apply state substantive law and federal procedural
law.” Gasperini v. Ctr. for Humanities, Inc.,
518 U.S. 415, 427 (1996). The parties have analyzed their
claims under Louisiana law, implicitly agreeing that
Louisiana substantive law controls. See In re Katrina
Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 206 (5th Cir. 2007)
(deferring to the parties' agreement that Louisiana
substantive law controlled); see also Brown v.
Wal-Mart Louisiana LLC, No. CIV.A. 10-1402, 2012 WL
3109785, at *4-5 (W.D. La. July 27, 2012) (applying Louisiana
substantive law to claims related to a slip and fall). To
determine Louisiana law, federal courts look to the final
decisions of the Louisiana Supreme Court. In re Katrina
Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d at 206.
merchant liability statute, La. R.S. 9:2800.6, sets forth the
duty and burden of proof in a negligence case against a
merchant. Thompson v. Winn-Dixie Montgomery, Inc.,
2015-0477 (La. 10/14/15), 181 So.3d 656, 662. In this case,
La. R.S. 9:2800.6 governs because Family Dollar meets the
definition of a merchant under the statute,  and Glenn's
negligence claim centers on her fall due to conditions
existing on Family Dollar's premises. Roberts v.
Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 2005-1178 (La.App. 3 Cir.
4/5/06), 926 So.2d 121, 123 (“Since La. R.S. 9:2800.6
deals specifically with ‘a negligence claim brought
against a merchant for damages as a result of an injury