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Stelly v. City Club At River Ranch, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 12, 2018

SHIRLEY STELLY, ET AL.
v.
CITY CLUB AT RIVER RANCH, LLC, ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. 2016-3131 HONORABLE MARILYN C. CASTLE, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Chuck David Granger John Davis Granger Law Firm COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS: Shirley Stelly Dudley Stelly

          Kristen B. Guidry Law Offices of Robert D. Ford COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES: Hanover Insurance Company City Club at River Ranch, LLC CCRR Properties, LLC

          Court composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, Shannon J. Gremillion, and John E. Conery, Judges.

          SHANNON J. GREMILLION JUDGE

         Appellants, Shirley Stelly and her husband, Dudley Stelly, appeal the trial court's summary judgment granted in favor of City Club at River Ranch, LLC, CCRR Properties, LLC, and their insurer, Hanover Insurance Company, which dismissed the Stellys' petition alleging that Mrs. Stelly was injured when she fell in or around the parking lot of the City Club at River Ranch (CCRR) in Lafayette, Louisiana.

On appeal, summary judgments are reviewed de novo. Magnon v. Collins, 98-2822 (La.7/7/99), 739 So.2d 191. Thus, the appellate court asks the same questions the trial court asks to determine whether summary judgment is appropriate. Id. This inquiry seeks to determine whether any genuine issues of material fact exist and whether the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(B) and (C). This means that judgment must be rendered in favor of the movant if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits show a lack of factual support for an essential element of the opposing party's claim. Id. If the opposing party cannot produce any evidence to suggest that he will be able to meet his evidentiary burden at trial, no genuine issues of material fact exist. Id.
Material facts are those that determine the outcome of the legal dispute. Soileau v. D & J Tire, Inc., 97-318 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/8/97), 702 So.2d 818, writ denied, 97-2737 (La.1/16/98), 706 So.2d 979. In deciding whether facts are material to an action, we look to the applicable substantive law. Id. Finally, summary judgment procedure is favored and designed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action. La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(A)(2).

Am. Zurich Ins. Co. v. Caterpillar, Inc., 12-270, pp. 4-5 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/3/12), 99 So.3d 739, 742-43.

         With these principles in mind, we will examine the documentation submitted by the Appellees supporting their motion to determine whether they establish an absence of factual support for one or more essential elements of the Stelly's claims. Then we will examine the documentation opposing the motion to determine whether they suggest that the Stellys will be able to meet their evidentiary burden at trial.

         In support of their motion, Appellees attached the Stelly's petition and Mrs. Stelly's deposition. The petition alleged the basic facts of the suit: Mrs. Stelly was at the CCRR on June 22, 2015, "when she tripped and fell on a raised area of cement." This fall allegedly injured Mrs. Stelly, and her husband suffered a loss of consortium because of her injuries.

         Mrs. Stelly's deposition testimony is summarized as follows: On the date in question, Mrs. Stelly arrived at the CCRR to get a facial and massage at the River Spa. Mrs. Stelly had been to the spa many times. She drove her car into the parking lot and parked at the second-to-last space along the building before which she parked. The building was separated from the parking spaces by a sidewalk. She removed some packages from her car and set them on the sidewalk. Mrs. Stelly testified that nothing obstructed her view of the sidewalk. She then attempted to mount the sidewalk when her foot slipped on the edge of the curb. Mrs. Stelly fell forward and stretched forth her arms to arrest her fall. Her head hit the sidewalk, and her arm was broken. In her affidavit, Mrs. Stelly testified that she was not aware that the curb was "higher than a normal sidewalk edge."

         Appellees contend that the sidewalk represents an open and obvious condition that does not pose an unreasonable risk of harm. Based upon the foregoing, we conclude that the motion was properly supported; therefore, the burden shifted to the Stellys to produce evidence that would suggest that they will be able to meet their burden of proof at trial.

         The Stellys presented the same deposition excerpt of Mrs. Stelly, an affidavit from her, and an affidavit of Mr. William J. ...


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