Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2018-2183
Honorable Wilson Rambo, Judge
ANTHONY J. BRUSCATO Counsel for Appellant
HUDSON, POTTS & BERNSTEIN By: Donald H. Zeigler, III
Counsel for Appellee
PITMAN, GARRETT, and STEPHENS, JJ.
Boyd Matlock appeals a judgment of the Fourth Judicial
District Court, Parish of Ouachita, State of Louisiana,
granting a motion for summary judgment by Brookshire Grocery
Company and dismissing Matlock's claim with prejudice.
For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
matter arises out of injuries plaintiff, William Boyd
Matlock, sustained on September 3, 2016, when he slipped and
fell in the produce section of a Super 1 grocery store (the
"store"), operated by defendant, Brookshire Grocery
Company ("Brookshire"), in Monroe, Louisiana.
Matlock was taken from the store by ambulance to St. Francis
Medical Center for neck, shoulder, and knee pain, and
numbness in the tips of his fingers and toes. He subsequently
received additional treatment at Louisiana Pain Care and
North Louisiana Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic. On
November 10, 2016, Matlock filed a petition for damages
against Brookshire. Following discovery and the taking of
depositions, Brookshire filed a motion for summary judgment
on December 19, 2018.
argued in its memorandum in support of the motion that
Matlock would not be able to prove an essential element of
its claim against Brookshire-that Brookshire either created a
condition that presented an unreasonable risk of harm or had
actual or constructive notice of such a condition prior to
the incident. Brookshire submitted an incident report
completed by the store's assistant manager, Chris Baker.
The report states Matlock fell near the watermelon bins,
where a "milky/clear" puddle of watermelon juice
was standing on the floor, roughly 18 inches in diameter. The
report further indicated there were two "wet floor
signs" placed in the area at the time of Matlock's
fall. Attached to the report were photographs of the puddle
taken immediately after the incident.
also submitted affidavits of four store employees, including
Baker, and the produce manager, Stewart Bodie. All four
employees testified they were on duty when Matlock fell but
did not witness the incident, place any liquid substance on
the floor that caused Matlock to slip, or have any knowledge
of the substance's existence on the floor prior to the
incident. Baker further testified he had visited other
grocery stores in the Monroe area and photographed their
watermelon displays. Those photographs were attached to
Baker's affidavit along with a photograph of the
watermelon display that was in place in the store when the
incident occurred.  Additionally, store employees Derrick
Morrison and Patrick Reeves testified they were in the area 2
and 22 minutes, respectively, prior to Matlock's fall, at
which times there was no watermelon juice or other liquid
substance on the floor where Matlock would later fall.
further support of its motion, Brookshire submitted the
deposition of Matlock, wherein he testified that prior to his
fall, he did not see the puddle on the floor or any buggy
marks or tracks or footprints through the liquid. Matlock
stated the liquid probably covered "about a two- or
three- foot little area." He further testified that
other than having overheard an employee state the liquid
appeared to be watermelon juice, he did not know where it
came from. Matlock testified, "[the liquid] seemed like
it must not have been there too long ahead . . . and if
it'd been there very long, I probably would've seen
it." He stated while "wet floor" cones appear
"everywhere in the store," there was not one at the
spot of his fall; however, after falling, while still lying
on the floor, he noticed a cone he had not seen before, which
was located two or three feet away.
opposition to Brookshire's motion, Matlock argued there
existed genuine issues of material fact regarding whether
Brookshire knew of the risk of leaking watermelons and failed
to prevent it by inspecting the watermelons or placing an
absorbent material beneath the bins and regarding how long
the watermelon juice was on the floor before Matlock slipped
in it. In support of his position, Matlock submitted
photographs from the scene, the same ones attached to the
incident report, and the surveillance video from the store
showing the area in which the accident occurred. The video
includes footage from the produce section of the store and
shows the watermelons were displayed in a large cardboard bin
that was placed on wooden pallets. While the view of
Matlock's actual fall is obstructed by produce
containers, the footage shows the following notable activity:
2:22 p.m. A female shopper traverses back and forth over the
incident site several times.
2:25 p.m. A male shopper traverses the incident site.
2:28 p.m. Another female shopper traverses the incident site.
2:28 p.m. A store employee enters the area.
2:36 p.m. Another female shopper traverses the incident site.
2:44 p.m. A small female child traverses the incident site