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Jones v. Wal-Mart Louisiana LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

August 29, 2019

IESHIA HOLLINS JONES
v.
WAL-MART LOUISIANA, LLC, ET AL.

          KAREN L. HAYES JUDGE.

          RULING

          Terry A. Doughty United States District Judge

         Pending here is the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Regarding Plaintiff’s Economic Damages and Wage Loss Claims filed by Defendants Wal-Mart Louisiana, LLC and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (collectively “Wal-Mart”) [Doc. No. 51]. Defendant Ieshia Hollins Jones (“Jones”) has filed an opposition [Doc. No. 63]. Wal-Mart has filed a reply [Doc. No. 73].

         For the foregoing reasons, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Jones filed this lawsuit following a slip and fall accident at a Wal-Mart Store in West Monroe, Louisiana on August 16, 2016. As a result of the accident, she claims to have sustained economic damages and lost wages. In its motion, Wal-Mart contends, first, that all of Jones’ alleged economic losses are actually those of a company called Direnzic Technology & Consulting, LLC, (“Direnzic”), and that none of the alleged losses belong to Jones. Secondly, Wal-Mart contends that the record is void of any documentation or support for Jones’ claim that she personally suffered lost wages. Wal-Mart therefore seeks summary judgment dismissing Jones’ claims for economic damages and wage loss claims with prejudice Wal-Mart asserts that when Jones submitted her Initial Witness and Exhibit Lists in December 2017, she did not identify any documentation that might support her economic damage claims or her lost wage claims. Wal-Mart then deposed Jones on January 4, 2018, and requested information pertaining to these claims.

         Jones testified that she owns her own technology management and consulting limited liability company, Direnzic [Doc. No. 51-5, p. 18]. She does not take a salary but draws from the company if there is a profit [Id., pp. 20-21]. She could not calculate the amount of her lost wages, but she testified that she initially missed only four to five days of billing for Direnzic following the accident due to pain, and additional days to attend doctors’ appointments [Id., pp. 18-20].

         Wal-Mart asserts that Jones’ testimony revealed that her lost wage claims were premised on losses her company allegedly incurred, not losses of Jones in her personal capacity. Specifically, Jones claimed that she canceled a Direnzic seminar she planned to host in the days after the accident, and that she could not bid on at least two projects on behalf of Direnzic [Id., pp. 29-30, 92-94]. Jones was unable to establish the company expenses lost for having to reserve the class area and books and could provide no details regarding the company’s alleged lost project bids, such as the time frame or income lost for them [Id., pp. 92-94]. Nonetheless, Jones testified that her company did not lose any clients because of the accident, and she could not say whether she lost any new business [Id., pp. 28-29].

         However, on the morning of a scheduled mediation on August 20, 2018, Jones provided a self-calculation of her company’s alleged economic losses, purporting to show lost income of $48,410.00 and “potential” lost wages in the amount of $6,661,820.00, which she attributed to Direnzic’s loss of the opportunities to bid on projects. [Doc. No. 51-6, Plaintiff’s “Lost Wage Data” Worksheet].

         Despite her alleged claims of company losses in the millions of dollars, Jones’ Schedule C tax returns for Direnzic for 2015 and 2016 showed gross receipts of $9,129.00 and $17,500.00, respectively. [Doc. No. 51-10].

         On February 6, 2019, Wal-Mart re-deposed Jones about her alleged economic and wage loss claims. Jones confirmed the losses she is claiming were not sustained by her personally, but by Direnzic [Doc. No. 51-7, p. 79]. These alleged losses include hours the company would have billed to clients, a company seminar cancelation, accounts payable the company paid out to contractors, time that the company could not bill while she was at the doctor’s office, and bids the company did not complete and/or timely deliver, which totaled the $6,661,820.00 she is seeking [Id., pp 50-79].

         Wal-mart argues in its motion for partial summary judgment that since none of the alleged losses are those that belong to Jones, and since the record is void of any documentation or support for Jones’ claim that she personally suffered lost wages, it is entitled to summary judgment dismissing Jones’ claims for economic damages and wage loss claims with prejudice.

         Jones responds that, as the owner of Direnzic, her personal income is based on her Schedule C that is filed with her personal 1040 taxes; therefore, any profit of the business is considered her personal taxable earning. She argues that she is not attempting to assert a claim on behalf of Direnzic for business losses, but, rather, is asserting a claim for her own personal lost wages. In support of her argument, she attaches the Affidavit of Johann V. Hollins, the preparer of her income tax returns [Doc. No. 63-2].

         II. ...


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