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Chenet v. ST. Edwards Ltd. Partnership

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

July 24, 2019

BRITTENY CHENET
v.
ST. EDWARDS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, ET AL.

          SUPERVISORY WRIT FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF IBERIA, NO. 131, 961 HONORABLE LEWIS H. PITMAN, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE

          Bart Bernard Carl J. Rachal Meagan M. Smith Bart Bernard Personal Injury Law Firm COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/RESPONDENT: Britteny Chenet

          D. Scott Rainwater Claire E. Sauls Taylor, Wellons, Politz & Duhe, APLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPLICANT: St. Edwards Limited Partnership Edwards Holding, LLC

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Sylvia R. Cooks, and John D. Saunders, Judges.

          JOHN D. SAUNDERS JUDGE

         Defendants-Relators, St. Edwards Limited Partnership and Edwards Holding, LLC, (Relators) seek supervisory writs from the judgment of the Sixteenth Judicial District Court, the Honorable Lewis H. Pitman presiding, which denied Relators' motion for summary judgment.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         This case arises from an accident on April 1, 2017, wherein Plaintiff, Britteny Chenet (Chenet), fell and injured her foot while walking to a residence at St. Edwards Subdivision Apartments to purchase "cold cups" for her children. Chenet alleges that she was forced to leave the sidewalk and walk in the grass due to the presence of bags of concrete on the sidewalk blocking her path to the residence. While she was walking in the grass, allegedly she stepped in a hole obscured by grass and fell.

         On March 29, 2018, Chenet filed suit against Relators for damages sustained as a result of the fall. On January 22, 2019, Relators filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Chenet could not carry her burden of proving that the hole on Relators' property constituted an unreasonable risk of harm. On March 26, 2019, the motion was denied following a hearing, and written judgment was signed to this effect on April 16, 2019. Relators are now before this court on writs seeking review of the trial court's ruling.

         SUPERVISORY RELIEF

         The requirement of irreparable injury is met in this case in light of Herlitz Constr. Co., Inc. v. Hotel Investors of New Iberia, Inc., 396 So.2d 878 (La.1981). When the overruling of an exception is arguably incorrect, when a reversal will terminate the litigation, and when there is no dispute of fact to be resolved, judicial efficiency and fundamental fairness to the litigants dictate that the merits of the application for supervisory writs should be decided in an attempt to avoid the waste of time and expense of a possibly useless future trial on the merits. Id.

         ON THE MERITS

         In Dauzat v. Curnest Guillot Logging Inc., 08-528, pp. 4-5 (La. 12/2/08), 995 So.2d 1184, 1186-1186, the supreme court explained (citations omitted):

It is well-settled law that a landowner owes a duty to a plaintiff to discover any unreasonably dangerous conditions, and to either correct the ...

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