Appealed from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and
for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana Docket Number
C609540 Honorable R. Michael Caldwell, Judge Presiding
D. Fagan, Locke Meredith, Collins Meredith, Mitchell Meredith
Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellants, Connie Minix, Christopher
Minix, and James Minix as party plaintiffs for the deceased
Gracella Simmons Collin J. LeBlanc Counsel for
Defendant/Appellee, Pilot Travel Centers, LLC
Boudreaux Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for Intervenor, Liberty
Mutual Insurance Company
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., WELCH, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.
an appeal from a judgment of the Nineteenth Judicial District
Court in East Baton Rouge Parish, granting the
defendant's motion for summary judgment and dismissing
the plaintiffs' suit with prejudice. For the following
reasons, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Minix, a commercial truck driver, was injured on March 30,
2011, at the Pilot Travel Center in Rayville, Louisiana, when
he fell after encountering a pothole in a paved area of the
Pilot facility adjacent to the fueling island where he had
parked his rig. Upon pulling into a fueling island at the
Pilot facility, Minix exited his truck and began walking
around the tractor and trailer, engaging the fuel pumps to
fill both the driver's side and passenger side fuel tanks
of his rig. After engaging both pumps, Minix proceeded around
the front of the rig from the passenger side, and as he
approached the driver's side of the truck in front of the
rig, his right leg "slipped" in a pothole, located
about eighteen to twenty-four inches off the front bumper.
According to Minix, the toe of his shoe "hung up on the
edge of the hole," and he stumbled, landing on both
knees and hurting his back.
Minix filed suit against Pilot Travel Centers, LLC
("Pilot") for the injuries he sustained, averring
that the hole had been present for an extended period of time
as evidenced by its eroded edges and that the area
surrounding the hole was coated with a slippery substance,
which appeared to be fuel or a similar
substance. Thus, Minix contended that the hole was a
defect that created an unreasonable risk of harm and that
Pilot knew or should have known of the defect. Accordingly,
he sought damages for his personal injuries. Minix later
died, and Connie Minix, Christopher Minix, and James Minix
(hereinafter collectively referred to as
"plaintiffs") were apparently substituted as
answering the petition, Pilot filed a motion for summary
judgment, averring that the alleged defect was "obvious
to all" and that plaintiffs would be unable to meet
their burden of proof at trial to demonstrate the existence
of an unreasonably dangerous condition on the Pilot premises.
Pilot further asserted that plaintiffs lacked the ability to
demonstrate that Pilot had knowledge of the defective
condition. Thus, Pilot contended that it was entitled to
judgment in its favor as a matter of law, dismissing
plaintiffs' claims against it.
a hearing on the motion, the trial court granted the motion
and dismissed plaintiffs claims against Pilot with prejudice.
From this judgment, plaintiffs appeal.
motion for summary judgment is a procedural device used to
avoid a full-scale trial when there is no genuine issue of
material fact. Jones v. Anderson, 2016-1361 (La.App.
1st Cir. 6/29/17), 224 So.3d 413, 417. After an
opportunity for adequate discovery, a motion for summary
judgment shall be granted if the motion, memorandum, and
supporting documents show there is no genuine issue as to
material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. LSA-C.C.P. art. 966(A)(3). The only documents
that may be filed in support of or in opposition to the
motion are ...