FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ACADIA,
NO. 2016-10085 HONORABLE MARILYN CARR CASTLE, DISTRICT JUDGE.
MAYEAUX QUINCY L. MOUTON NEUNERPATE COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE: CITY OF CROWLEY
BENJAMIN ALEXANDER LABORDE EARLES LAW FIRM, LLC COUNSEL FOR
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT: VERNON MARTIN
composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, D. Kent Savoie, and
Jonathan W. Perry, Judges.
ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE.
Martin appeals the judgment of the trial court dismissing his
claim for injuries arising from an incident in which he
tripped after stepping into a hole on property owned and
maintained by the City of Crowley (Crowley).
12, 2015, after leaving Gremillion's Drugstore in
Crowley, Louisiana, Mr. Martin walked to his truck parked on
West Fourth Street when he tripped on a hole in a grassy area
between the sidewalk and the street. Mr. Martin claimed to
suffer injuries to his back and his knee as a result of the
incident. He filed a Petition for Damages naming as
defendants Crowley, H & H Electrical Service (H & H),
and H & H's insurer, Republic Underwriters Insurance
(Republic). Mr. Martin alleged that Crowley was the owner of
the grass strip where Mr. Martin tripped, and it may have
created the hole over which he tripped. H & H had
installed a utility pole for the International Rice Festival,
and Mr. Martin alleged that the hole he tripped over may have
been created by H & H. In a First Supplemental and
Amending Petition, Mr. Martin added the International Rice
Festival as a defendant, alleging that it may have created
H and Republic filed a Motion for Summary Judgment alleging
there was no evidence that H & H created the hole. Mr.
Martin did not contest the motion, and a judgment dismissing
H & H and Republic was issued. Likewise, the
International Rice Festival filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment, which was unopposed by Mr. Martin. Thus, a judgment
dismissing the claim against the International Rice Festival
was executed. The action against Crowley proceeded to trial.
7, 2018, a trial on the merits was convened. At the
conclusion of Mr. Martin's case-in-chief, Crowley moved
for a directed verdict. The trial court denied the motion.
Crowley rested its case without presenting any evidence. The
trial court then ruled in open court that Mr. Martin failed
to prove that the hole in question presented an unreasonable
risk of harm. Further, the trial court found that Mr. Martin
failed to prove that Crowley had actual or constructive
notice of the hole. The trial court dismissed Mr.
Martin's claims against Crowley in a judgment dated May
17, 2018. Mr. Martin perfected this appeal.
On appeal, Mr. Martin asserts two assignments of error:
1. The District Court erred in ruling that the hole at issue
did not present an unreasonable risk of harm in light of
evidence that Defendant had a reasonable expectation that
pedestrians would be walking in the area where the hole was
located; that the hole was several inches deep and wide, and
partially obstructed by grass making it difficult for
pedestrians to see from a reasonable distance; and where
Defendant would not have had to incur substantial additional
costs to inspect the grass strip at issue given that its
already employee [sic] performed maintenance in the area on a
2. The District Court erred in ruling that Defendant did not
have actual or constructive knowledge of the hole at issue in
light of evidence that Defendant's employees and
representatives admitted to prior knowledge of a hole in the
grass strip at issue, and admitted that by virtue of regular
maintenance performed on the grass strip, they ...