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Johnson v. Lowe's Home Centers, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 10, 2019

SHARON JOHNSON Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
LOWE'S HOME CENTERS, LLC AND ABC INSURANCE COMPANY Defendants-Appellees

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 600, 301 Honorable Michael A. Pitman, Judge

          ERNEST GILLIAM, III Counsel for Appellant

          SHARON JOHNSON In Proper Person

          TAYLOR, WELLONS, POLITZ & DUHE, APLC By: Chris W. Caswell Counsel for Appellees

          Before GARRETT, STEPHENS, and McCALLUM, JJ.

          STEPHENS, J.

         Sharon Johnson, plaintiff, appeals a judgment granting a motion for summary judgment filed by Lowe's Home Centers, L.L.C. ("Lowe's") and dismissing all claims by Johnson with prejudice. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In Johnson's petition, filed on April 25, 2017, Johnson alleged that her injuries were caused by the negligence of Lowe's and/or its employee. According to Johnson, Lowe's negligence was the proximate cause of her injuries and she has suffered substantial damage as a result. The specific facts set forth here are from Johnson's petition against Lowe's.

         Johnson alleged that on May 4, 2016, she purchased a spark plug for her lawn mower from a Lowe's store located in Shreveport, Louisiana. According to Johnson, she was unsure of the precise spark plug she needed for her Briggs & Stratton Poulan Pro 450 lawn mower, so she asked a Lowe's sale associate for assistance. Johnson claimed that the associate researched the spark plug she needed for her mower, which she purchased; afterward, Johnson returned home and installed the part. Upon attempting to start her mower, Johnson claimed she pulled the cord with her right hand/arm, and the cable "jerked violently." The crank handle struck Johnson "violently" on her left arm, near the middle of the inside of her forearm. As a result, Johnson contended she experienced pain which "shot up [her] back into her neck and radiated down the right side of her body." When Johnson went to bed that night, her hands went numb, something she had never experienced before. Johnson claimed she went to her physician for the hand numbness, who advised "the injury made her preexisting and intermittent carpal tunnel syndrome systematic."

         Lowe's answered Johnson's petition, denying all allegations made therein, and responded with several defenses, including the defense that Johnson's injuries were caused by her own negligence.

         Ultimately, Lowe's filed a motion for summary judgment and attached, in support, excerpts from Johnson's deposition transcript and the affidavit of Stephen Cook, the equipment mechanic retained by Johnson. In its motion, Lowe's maintained that Johnson had failed to produce any evidence to establish Lowe's liability in this case, and there were no genuine issues of material fact. Specifically, Lowe's argued that since Johnson could not prove an essential element in the duty/risk analysis (i.e., cause-in-fact), Lowe's was entitled to summary judgment.

         After a hearing on the matter, the trial court granted Lowe's motion for summary ...


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