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Pierite v. DG Louisiana, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 7, 2018

LEMARR PIERITE
v.
DG LOUISIANA, LLC

          APPEAL FROM THE TWELFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF AVOYELLES, NO. 2016-3415-B HONORABLE WILLIAM BENNETT, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Cory P. Roy Brandon J. Scott Benjamin D. James Renee Y. Roy Roy Scott & James COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Lemarr Pierite

          Peter J. Wanek Trevor C. Davies McCranie, Sistrunk, Anzelmo, Hardy, McDaniel & Welch COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: DG Louisiana, LLC

          Court composed of Billy Howard Ezell, Shannon J. Gremillion, and D. Kent Savoie, Judges.

          D. KENT SAVOIE JUDGE

         Defendant, DG Louisiana, LLC ("Dollar General"), appeals a judgment in favor of Plaintiff, Lamarr Pierite, finding Dollar General liable for a slip-and-fall incident and awarding Mr. Pierite with $30, 000.00 in general damages, in addition to special damages and costs. For the following reasons, we reverse and render judgment in favor of Defendant.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Mr. Pierite alleges that he was injured on August 27, 2015, at a Dollar General store in Marksville, Louisiana, when he slipped and fell in a liquid substance on the floor. He was twenty-three years old at the time. He alleges that as a result of the incident he sustained injuries to his back, neck, and left shoulder.

         Mr. Pierite filed a petition for damages against Dollar General on August 12, 2016. A bench-trial was held August 23, 2017. Mr. Pierite's counsel elicited testimony from Mr. Pierite and from his treating physician, Dr. Dixie Clement. In addition, various evidence was accepted into the record including video surveillance showing the incident, photographs of Mr. Pierite and the scene following the incident, Mr. Pierite's medical records from Dr. Clement, and deposition testimony of Sherie Harris, who was at the Dollar General at the time of the incident in connection with her employment with a greeting card company.

         After Mr. Pierite presented his case, Dollar General moved for an involuntary dismissal, arguing that Mr. Pierite had failed to prove that Dollar General had actual or constructive notice of the alleged liquid on the floor. The trial court denied the motion. Thereafter, Ms. Linda Hargrave, the store manager of Dollar General who was present at the time of the incident, was called to testify. Following the presentation of evidence, the trial court took the matter under advisement.

         Ultimately, the trial court found Dollar General liable and awarded Mr. Pierite $30, 000.00 in general damages, $2, 670.27 in special damages, $1, 500.00 for expert witness fees, $79.50 for medical record costs, legal interest, and court costs.

         In its written reasons for judgment, the trial court stated:

Pierite clearly slipped and fell. Pierite's testimony was very credible that there was some type of liquid that he fell in and that this liquid was on the rear of his body on his clothes. The evidence is also undisputed that Hargrave did not look at his rear for this purpose.
Because the video evidence clearly shows traffic in the area where Pierite fell, which included a small child drinking a beverage prior to Pierite's fall, this Court can reasonably infer that it is likely that this was the cause of the liquid on the floor, and that the liquid remained on the floor for some time prior to Pierite's fall.
Based on the above, this Court finds that that plaintiff has proven more probable than not that there was a liquid on the floor of the Dollar General Store that caused his fall; this liquid was on the floor for a sufficient period of time wherein Dollar General ...

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