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Hill v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

October 2, 2019

LISA HILL
v.
HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 761-477, DIVISION "E" HONORABLE WILLIAM C. CREDO, III, JUDGE PRO TEMPORE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, LISA HILL Kevin M. Riley Michael D. Riley

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC. Peter J. Wanek Lindsay G. Faulkner Kathryn T. Trew

          Panel composed of Judges Robert A. Chaisson, Stephen J. Windhorst, and Hans J. Liljeberg

          ROBERT A. CHAISSON JUDGE

         In this personal injury suit arising from alleged premises liability and general negligence, Lisa Hill appeals an October 16, 2018 judgment of the trial court that granted Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.'s ("Hobby Lobby") motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 1, 2015, while shopping in a Hobby Lobby store in Jefferson Parish, Ms. Hill attempted to sit in a display chair that was for sale but the chair collapsed beneath her, causing her to fall to the floor and sustain personal injuries. As a result of this incident, on June 1, 2016, Ms. Hill filed suit against Hobby Lobby for her injuries based upon theories of defective premises and general negligence.

         On April 11, 2018, Hobby Lobby responded to Ms. Hill's discovery requests that she contends were propounded upon Hobby Lobby eighteen months earlier, on October 12, 2016.[1] Six days later, on April 17, 2018, Hobby Lobby filed its motion for summary judgment arguing that Ms. Hill could not present evidence of two essential elements of her claim: 1) that the property had a condition that created an unreasonable risk of harm to persons on the premises, and 2) that Hobby Lobby had actual or constructive knowledge of the risk. Thereafter, on June 5, 2018, and June 15, 2018, Hobby Lobby provided supplemental responses to its prior answers.

         Hearing on Hobby Lobby's motion for summary judgment was originally set for June 13, 2018, but was continued to September 26, 2018, by agreement of the parties because Ms. Hill desired to take additional discovery. In light of the continuance of the hearing on the summary judgment motion, Hobby Lobby filed a motion to also continue the trial on the merits.

         At the September 26, 2018 hearing, counsel for Ms. Hill argued that she had not had adequate time within which to conduct discovery and believed that it was inappropriate to move forward on the motion for summary judgment, requesting additional time within which to depose the Hobby Lobby employees.[2] After noting that the hearing on the summary judgment motion had already been continued once to give Ms. Hill extra time for the development of her evidence, the trial court proceeded with ruling on the motion in favor of Hobby Lobby. It is from this judgment that Ms. Hill now appeals.

         In her appeal, Ms. Hill raises two issues: 1) whether adequate discovery was completed prior to the entry of summary judgment, and 2) whether genuine issues of material fact preclude summary judgment.

         DISCUSSION

         A motion for summary judgment is a procedural device used to avoid a full-scale trial when there is no genuine issue of material fact. The summary judgment procedure is favored and is designed to secure the just, speedy, and ...


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