APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 754-274, DIVISION
"M" HONORABLE HENRY G. SULLIVAN, JR., JUDGE
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, ELSA CARUSO Arthur O. Schott,
III Ivan A. Orihuela Joseph A. Interiano
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, ACADEMY SPORTS AND OUTDOORS
James M. Garner Ryan O. Luminais
composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Marc E. Johnson, and John
J. Molaison, Jr.
E. JOHNSON JUDGE
Academy Ltd. d/b/a/ Academy Sports and Outdoors (hereinafter
referred to as "Academy"), appeals a judgment
finding it solely at fault for injuries incurred by
Plaintiff/Appellee, Elsa Caruso, and accompanying damages
awards from the 24th Judicial District Court,
Division "M". For the following reasons, we affirm
the judgment of the trial court.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
October 7, 2015, Ms. Caruso filed a "Petition for
Damages" against Academy. In her petition, she alleged
that, as she proceeded through the store located in Gretna,
Louisiana on October 8, 2014, she was struck by falling
merchandise and/or shelving on her head, face, and other body
parts. She further alleged that, as a direct consequence of
Academy's negligence and/or reckless actions from the
falling merchandise and/or shelving, she suffered severe
injuries to her muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems.
Academy answered the petition, denying Ms. Caruso's
allegations and arguing Ms. Caruso was the sole or
contributing proximate cause of the accident by failing to
watch where she was walking or mitigating her damages.
Academy further argued that the accident may have been caused
by the fault of a third party.
matter proceeded to a bench trial on February 28, 2018. At
the beginning of the trial, the parties stipulated to various
exhibits, which included photographs, Ms. Caruso's medical
records, and an affidavit from Ferdinand
Gettridge. Ms. Caruso was the only witness called for
live testimony at the trial. At the close of Ms. Caruso's
case-in-chief, Academy orally moved for an involuntary
dismissal of Ms. Caruso's action.
motion, Academy argued that Ms. Caruso failed to present any
evidence that it controlled the premises where the accident
allegedly occurred or any evidence that Academy was involved
in the accident in any manner. The trial court denied
Academy's motion then allowed it the opportunity to
present its casein-chief, to which Academy declined and
rested its case. The trial court took the matter under
advisement. However, prior to concluding the proceeding, the
trial judge orally noted that the certified medical records
reported Ms. Caruso was in Academy Sports when the accident
written judgment dated April 5, 2018, the trial court found
that Academy was 100% at fault and was the legal cause of Ms.
Caruso's damages. The court awarded Ms. Caruso $24, 750
in damages against Academy, which included $21, 250 in
general damages and $3, 500 in special damages. The instant
suspensive appeal by Academy followed.
appeal, Academy alleges the trial court was manifestly
erroneous by: 1) finding it to be 100% at fault for Ms.
Caruso's injuries, despite her failure to present any
testimony or evidence to meet her burden of proof; 2) finding
it to be 100% at fault for Ms. Caruso's injuries when she
failed to testify where she was injured; 3) failing to find
comparative fault on the part of Ms. Caruso; and 4) awarding
Ms. Caruso $21, 250 in general damages and $3, 500 in special