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Batiste v. Erin Covington, LP

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

December 11, 2019

ARLISA BATISTE
v.
ERIN COVINGTON, LP, PROVIDENT REALTY ADVISORS, INC., AND ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES INSURANCE COMPANY, INC.

          On appeal from the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of St. Tammany State of Louisiana Docket Number 2016-11913 Honorable Martin E. Coady, Judge Presiding

          Hugh B. Exnicios Folsom, LA Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant Arlisa Batiste

          Matthew F. Morgan Sidney W. Degan, III Travis L. Bourgeois New Orleans, LA Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Erin Covington, LP, Provident Realty Advisors, Inc., and Associated Industries Insurance Company, Inc.

          BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., GUIDRY, AND CRAIN, JJ. [1]

          GUIDRY, J.

         Plaintiff, Arlisa Batiste, appeals from a judgment that dismissed her claims and granted summary judgment in favor of defendants, Erin Covington, LP; Provident Realty Advisors, Inc.; and Associated Industries Insurance Company, Inc. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 10, 2015, Ms. Batiste, who was a resident of Pine Crest Apartments, slipped and fell in the parking lot of the apartment complex "on a certain section of the concrete or cement which was broken, cracked and covered in a wet slippery substance which appeared to resemble motor oil." Ms. Batiste thereafter filed suit against the owner of the apartment complex, Erin Covington, LP, individually and doing business as Pine Crest Apartments; the apartment complex's parent company, Provident Realty Advisors, Inc.; and their insurer, Associated Industries Insurance Company, Inc. (collectively "defendants"). Ms. Batiste claimed the defendants were negligent in their failure to keep the premises of the parking lot safe for use, repair the broken cement or concrete, and properly assess the condition of the parking lot, and were thus liable for the damages she sustained. The defendants, in their answer to the petition, denied liability. Later, on April 18, 2018, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that Ms. Batiste had no evidence of actual or constructive notice and therefore, she was not able to factually support at least one essential element of her claim.

         On October 24, 2018, Ms. Batiste filed an opposition to the defendants' motion for summary judgment, arguing that she had made a prima facie showing of her case as evidenced by the exhibits attached to her opposition. Ms. Batiste also filed a motion to continue the defendants' summary judgment hearing[2] and a countervailing motion for summary judgment.

         At the hearing on the defendants' motion for summary judgment, the trial court denied Ms. Batiste's motion to continue, reasoning that two continuances had already been granted, and proceeded with the hearing on the defendants' motion. After considering the evidence presented and arguments of the counsel, the trial court issued reasons for judgment finding that Ms. Batiste had failed to present evidence to support a finding that the defendants had actual or constructive notice of the alleged defective condition in the parking lot and therefore, she was unable to meet her burden of proof under La. C.C. art. 2317.1. The trial court signed a judgment on November 29, 2018, granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants and dismissing Ms. Batiste's claims with prejudice. Ms. Batiste now appeals from the trial court's judgment.

         ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR[3]

I. The trial court erred in granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment, adopting the incorrect law, and failing to recognize the plaintiffs valid theories of strict liability and negligence.
II. The trial court erred in failing to recognize that the sworn testimony of the 1442 Corporate Representative established that the defendants had a very poor approach to the inspection and discovery of problems, risks, and defects on their property, and that their failure subjects them to liability under the theories of strict liability and negligence.
III. The trial court erred in failing to find that there was a "defect" in the defendants' property under the law, so as to allow strict liability to be applied to this case.

         DISCUSSION

         Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

         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. M/V Resources LLC v. Louisiana Hardwood Products LLC, 16-0758, p. 8 (La.App. 1st Cir. 7/26/17), 225 So.3d 1104, 1109, writ denied, 17-1748 (La. 12/5/17), 231 So.3d 624. Amotion for summary judgment is properly granted if, after an opportunity for adequate discovery, the motion, memorandum, and supporting documents show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact and ...


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