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Bowles v. DG Louisiana LLC

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

October 9, 2019

AMBER BOWLES, ET AL.
v.
DG LOUISIANA, LLC

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE KAY

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          JAMES D. CAIN, JR., JUDGE

         Before the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [doc. 15] filed by defendant DG Louisiana, LLC (“Dollar General”), in response to the personal injury suit brought by plaintiffs Matthew and Amber Bowles. Plaintiffs oppose the motion. Doc. 17.

         I.

         Background

         This suit arises from injuries allegedly suffered by plaintiff Amber Bowles when she slipped while shopping at a Dollar General store in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on March 6, 2017. See doc. 1, att. 1. She contends that the floor was slippery because of shampoo that had spilled or leaked, and that there was no wet floor sign present. Id. at ¶ 3. Ms. Bowles and her husband, Matthew Bowles, filed suit in the Fourteenth Judicial District Court, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, seeking to hold Dollar General liable for her injuries under the Louisiana Merchant Liability Act. Dollar General then removed the suit to this court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         Dollar General now moves for summary judgment, alleging that plaintiffs cannot satisfy their burden of showing that it had actual or constructive notice of the alleged spill. Doc. 15; doc. 15, att. 1. It also asserts that some of plaintiffs' evidence - namely, statements from witness Patricia Runnels - must be disregarded as inadmissible hearsay. Id. Plaintiffs oppose the motion and argue that genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether Dollar General had constructive notice of the condition. Doc. 17. In the alternative, they request that the court delay consideration of the motion under Rule 56(d) so that they might have additional time to conduct discovery. Id.

         II.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Under Rule 56(a), “[t]he 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.” The moving party is initially responsible for identifying portions of pleadings and discovery that show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995). He may meet his burden by pointing out “the absence of evidence supporting the nonmoving party's case.” Malacara v. Garber, 353 F.3d 393, 404 (5th Cir. 2003). The non-moving party is then required to go beyond the pleadings and show that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To this end he must submit “significant probative evidence” in support of his claim. State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). “If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249 (citations omitted).

         A court may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). The court is also required to view all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Clift v. Clift, 210 F.3d 268, 270 (5th Cir. 2000). Under this standard, a genuine issue of material fact exists if a reasonable trier of fact could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d 322, 326 (5th Cir. 2008).

         III.

         Law & Application

         A. ...


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