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Carter v. Dolgencorp LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

June 3, 2019

GLENDA CARTER
v.
DOLGENCORP LLC

          KAY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          ROBERT R. SUMMERHAYS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant, DG Louisiana, LLC.[1] Pursuant to its motion, Defendant seeks dismissal with prejudice of this merchant liability suit brought by Plaintiff Glenda Carter. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is DENIED.

         I.

         Background

         Plaintiff brings this suit for damages allegedly sustained due to a slip and fall at a Dollar General store owned by Defendant and located at 1419 E. Prien Lake Road, in Lake Charles, Louisiana. According to Plaintiff, on the evening of October 22, 2015, sometime between the hours of 7:00 and 8:30 p.m., she and her daughter stopped at Dollar General to purchase personal items for Ms. Carter's grandson who had been admitted to a local hospital, [2] Plaintiff testified she turned left from the main aisle of the store onto the last aisle on the eastern side of the store to look for a pair of slippers. Plaintiff took about five steps into the aisle when she slipped and fell on store merchandise (specifically, clothing) discarded on the floor of the aisle.[3] Thereafter, Plaintiff filed suit in state court, alleging the fall caused "injuries to her body as a whole, including, but not limited to back and neck," as well as mental and emotional damages.[4]

         Defendant subsequently removed the suit to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Defendant now seeks dismissal of Plaintiff s suit, contending "no trip and fall incident occurred as claimed by Plaintiff," and Plaintiff has been "untruthful about this alleged incident, and quite possibly, is committing fraud."[5] Alternatively, Defendant argues "even if the incident did occur," Plaintiff cannot show Defendant had actual or constructive notice of the condition which caused Plaintiffs damages, and therefore summary judgment in Defendant's favor is warranted.[6]

         II.

         Standard of Review

         "A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id. "A genuine issue of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Quality Infusion Care, Inc. v. Health Care Service Corp., 628 F.3d 725, 728 (5th Cir. 2010). As summarized by the Fifth Circuit:

When seeking summary judgment, the movant bears the initial responsibility of demonstrating the absence of an issue of material fact with respect to those issues on which the movant bears the burden of proof at trial. However, where the nonmovant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant may merely point to an absence of evidence, thus shifting to the non-movant the burden of demonstrating by competent summary judgment proof that there is an issue of material fact warranting trial.

Lindsey v. Sears Roebuck and Co., 16 F, 3d 616, 618 (5th Cir. 1994) (internal citations omitted).

         When reviewing evidence in connection with a motion for summary judgment, "the court must disregard all evidence favorable to the moving party that the jury is not required to believe, and should give credence to the evidence favoring the nonmoving party as well as that evidence supporting the moving party that is uncontradicted and unimpeached." Roberts v. Cardinal Servs.,266 F.3d 368, 373 (5th Cir.2001); see also Feist v. Louisiana, Dept. of Justice, Office of the Atty. Gen.,730 F.3d 450, 452 (5th Cir. 2013) (courts must view all facts and evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party). "Credibility determinations are not part of the summary judgment analysis." Quorum Health Resources, L, L.C. v. Maverick County Hosp. Dist, 308 F, 3d 451, 458 (5th Cir. 2002). Rule 56 "mandates the entry of summary judgment. . . against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element ...


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