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Brown v. Jazz Casino Company, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

May 1, 2019

JOSEPH BROWN
v.
JAZZ CASINO COMPANY, LLC

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2015-00549, DIVISION "G-11" Honorable Robin M. Giarrusso, Judge

          Jack Howard Tobias LAW OFFICES OF JACK H. TOBIAS, P.L.C. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          Robert Hugh Murphy Jeffrey Allen Raines Emily Stevens Hardin MURPHY ROGERS SLOSS & GAMBEL COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods, Judge Dale N. Atkins

          REGINA BARTHOLOMEW-WOODS JUDGE

         This matter arises from a slip and fall incident inside a casino and is controlled by La. R.S. 9:2800.6, the Louisiana Merchant Liability Statute. Appellee filed a motion for summary judgment. In accordance with La. C.C.P. art. 966 (B)(2), Appellant failed to file his opposition to Appellee's motion for summary judgment within fifteen (15) days prior to the hearing on said motion. The trial court, without considering Appellant's opposition, granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee, and dismissed Appellant's claims with prejudice. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's grant of summary judgment.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On January 20, 2014, Plaintiff-Appellant, Joseph Brown ("Appellant") visited Harrah's New Orleans Casino ("Harrah's"). Before leaving Harrah's, Appellant visited a men's restroom located near the main floor of the casino. After exiting the restroom, Appellant began descending a set of stairs, and slipped and fell down multiple steps. This incident was captured on surveillance video. When deposed, Appellant explained that he observed the restroom floor was wet and soapy; and that once he fell, he noticed the back of his pants were wet. Appellant further explained that the janitor had been called to clean up the restrooms. As Appellant entered and exited the restroom, he recalled that the janitor was standing outside the restroom talking with another employee who had been standing at the top of the stairs holding an electric drill. Appellant further asserts that after he fell, the janitor, along with other casino employees, came to help him up. Appellant asserts that a problem with the water in the ladies' restroom necessitated that the water be shut off completely just before Appellant traversed the men's restroom then slipped and fell.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 20, 2015, Appellant filed a petition for damages against Defendant-Appellee, Jazz Casino ("Appellee"). Approximately, three (3) years later, on March 23, 2018, Appellee filed a motion for summary judgment, which was set for hearing on April 27, 2018. On April 20, 2018, a mere seven (7) days prior to the hearing, Appellant filed an opposition to Appellee's motion for summary judgment.[1] On April 23, 2018, Appellee filed a memorandum in reply. At the April 27th hearing, the trial court issued a judgment granting summary judgment in favor of Appellee, and dismissing, with prejudice, all of Appellant's claims. On May 8, 2018, Appellant filed a motion for rehearing, which the trial court denied on May 22, 2018. It is from both judgments that Appellant appeals.

          LAW & DISCUSSION

         Assignments of Error

         In this appeal, Appellant raises two (2) assignments of error. Appellant's first assignment of error addresses whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Appellees and dismissing, with prejudice, all of Appellant's claims. Appellant's second assignment of error addresses whether the trial court erred when it denied his motion for rehearing.

         Standard of Review

         In determining whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment, this Court has reasoned:

An appellate court conducts a de novo review, applying the same criteria that govern the trial court's determination of whether summary judgment is appropriate. Brown v. Amar Oil Co., 2011-1631, p. 2 (La.App. 1 Cir. 11/8/12), 110 So.3d 1089, 1090 (citing Sanders v. Ashland Oil, Inc., [19]96-1751, p. 6 (La.App. 1 Cir. 6/20/97), 696 So.2d 1031, 1035). A motion for summary judgment should only be granted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions, together with any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Collins v. Randall, 2002-0209, p. 3 (La.App. 1 Cir. 12/20/02), 836 So.2d 352, 354. The summary judgment procedure is designed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of actions. King v. Allen Court Apartments II, 2015-0858, p. 3 (La.App. 1 Cir. 12/23/15), 185 So.3d 835, 837, writ denied, 2016-0148 (La. 3/14/16), 189 So.3d 1069. This procedure is favored and shall be construed to accomplish these ends. Id.; see also La. C.C.P. Art. 966 A(2).
The initial burden of proof rests on the moving party. La. C.C.P. [a]rt. 966 D(1). However, if the mover will not bear the burden of proof at trial on the matter that is before the court on the motion for summary judgment, the mover's burden on the motion does not require him to negate all essential elements of the adverse party's claim, action, or defense, but rather, to point out to the court that there is an absence of factual support for one or more elements essential to the adverse party's claim, action or defense. King, 2015-0858 at p. 3, 185 So.3d at 838. Thereafter, if the adverse party fails to provide factual evidence sufficient to establish that he will be able to satisfy his evidentiary burden of proof at trial, there is no genuine issue of material fact. Id. It is only after the motion has been made and ...

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