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Leverson v. BJ's Restaurants, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

December 16, 2019

DEWAYNE LEVERSON
v.
BJ'S RESTAURANTS, INC., ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          JOHN W. deGRAVELLES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTJUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 16) filed by Defendants BJ's Restaurants, Inc., and BJ's Restaurant Operations Company (collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff Dewayne Leverson (“Plaintiff”) opposes the motion (Doc. 18), and Defendants have filed a reply (Doc. 19). Oral argument is not necessary. The Court has carefully considered the law, the facts in the record, and the arguments and submissions of the parties and is prepared to rule. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted, and Plaintiff's claims are dismissed with prejudice.

         I. Relevant Background

         A. Overview

         On or about February 17, 2018, Plaintiff was a patron of BJ's restaurant located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Defendants' Statement of Uncontested Material Facts (“SUMF”) ¶ 1, Doc. 16-2.)[1] While dining, Plaintiff got up from his table and walked towards the restrooms. (SUMF ¶ 2.) As Plaintiff approached the hallway leading from the main dining room to the restrooms, he fell forward and struck his chin on the floor in the hallway outside the restroom. (SUMF ¶ 3.) Plaintiff testified of the hazard:

Q. Okay. Do you know what caused you to fall?
A. It was- the floor was slippery. I-I remember walking and I was, like-and I kind of-I did like this and I was trying-wait a minute. It happened so quick that I ain't- I ain't- I tried to catch myself and I fell. I got off balance and I slipped, and I tried to catch myself, like, with my hands, I think, and I hit my jaw.
Q. Okay. So, do you know what was on the floor that caused you to-
A. It-it was wet, because when I woke up, shirt was- had- it wasn't soaked, but you could tell it was mopped- the floor was mopped or something.
. . .
Q. Okay. So, do you know what on the floor?
A. It had to be- it had to be water.

(Pl. Ex. B, Leverson Dep., 56-57, 59, Doc. 18-2.)

         B. The Key Testimony

         The Court finds that this motion turns on the question of whether Defendants either created the allegedly harmful condition (water on the floor) or had actual or constructive notice of it. As a result, the Court will focus the remainder of this section on those facts highlighted by the Plaintiff on this issue.

         First, Plaintiff points to the deposition of Justin Leenders, Defendants' senior manager on duty on the day of the accident. Leenders testified:

Q. Who at BJ'S would be in charge of the restrooms and making sure the facility is clean?
A. I would be from when I came in at 4:00. I would be the one to assign it to a team member to take care of.

(Pl. Ex. E, Leenders Dep., 12, Doc. 18-5.) Leenders further said:

Q. So you would have no reason to check the floors?
A. To check the floors?
Q. Yes.
A. I mean, I check them as I walk through the restaurant.
Q. Okay. But for you to check that hallway and bathroom, I'm assuming you don't make a regular check on that, do you?
A. I do it as I pass by on my figure eights.

(Pl. Ex. E, Leenders Dep., 26-27, Doc. 18-5.) Additionally, Leenders testified:

Q. Okay. Maintenance, how do y'all maintain the bathrooms?
A. How do we - well, doing restroom checks.
Q. Okay. How often are the bathrooms cleaned?
A. We try to do it every 30 minutes, but during our busy hours sometimes we're not able to do it every 30 minutes.
Q. Okay. Do y'all keep records of that?
A. We do not.

(Pl. Ex. E, Leenders Dep., 24, Doc. 18-5.) Leenders further said:

Q. Do you have any records[, ] or do you have any knowledge of anybody checking that hallway prior to Dewayne Leverson falling?
A. Checking the hallway, no, sir.
Q. As you sit here today can you tell us whether or not you checked that hallway prior to ...

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