United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
DRELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is a motion for summary judgment filed by
defendants, Wal-Mart Louisiana, LLC and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
(collectively referred to as "Wal-Mart") in the
above captioned personal injury suit. For the reasons
explained herein, the motion for summary judgment will be
GRANTED in full, dismissing all claims asserted by plaintiff,
Lisa Buchanan ("Buchanan").
20, 2016, Buchanan fell in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart
store in Jena, Louisiana. According to Buchanan, she stepped
on an uneven expansion joint between two portions of the
parking surface which caused her left ankle to twist and her
to fall. She sustained an injury to her right knee for which
she underwent a knee replacement.
evidence in this case consists of a Wal-Mart surveillance
video of the parking lot and photographs taken by
Wal-Mart's Asset Protection Associate, Brad Harrington.
(Docs 33-2 and 42-4, p.64 and 42-5-5, p.4-8).
surveillance video shows Buchanan's white SUV pulling
into a parking space located between a lawn and garden
display set up in the parking lot and a yellow striped area
adjacent to the crosswalk to the lawn and garden entrance of
the store. A smaller square portion of the striped area is
protected by stanchion posts painted bright yellow.
Buchanan's door is about even with this stanchioned area.
exits her vehicle, obtains a shopping cart, and peruses the
lawn and garden display. She then traverses the parking lot,
through the crosswalk and goes out of view. Minutes later,
Buchanan is seen walking to her car via the crosswalk. As she
exits the crosswalk and enters the yellow striped area, she
looks to her right, takes a few steps, her left foot steps on
the uneven area between the concrete slabs, and she falls.
pictures, which were taken after the date of the fall, depict
the yellow striped area from the vantage point of the parking
lot. As with the surveillance video, the uneven span of
concrete is obvious to the naked eye. Close-up photos of the
expansion joint and concrete slabs at issue show a vertical
variation in height of approximately one inch. No. other
defects or hazards are visible.
Civ. P. 56 provides that any party may move for summary
judgment as to one or more claims or defenses. "Rule 56
mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time
for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial."
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
applicable to merchant premises liability matters, such as
the one before the court, is found in Louisiana Revised
Statute 9:2800.6. Section A of the statute explains that,
"[a] merchant owes a duty to persons who use his
premises to exercise reasonable care to keep his aisles,
passageways, and floors in a reasonably safe condition. The
duty includes a reasonable effort to keep the premises free
of any hazardous conditions which might reasonably give rise
to damage." La. R.S 9:2800.6(A). Section B of the same
statute explains that a plaintiff who brings a case against
the merchant for injury, death or loss sustained because of a
fall due to a condition existing in or on the merchant's
premises must prove: (1) the condition presented an
unreasonable risk of harm to the claimant and that risk of
harm was reasonably foreseeable; (2) the merchant either
created or had actual or constructive notice of the condition
which caused the damage, prior to the occurrence; and (3) the
merchant failed to exercise reasonable care." La.R.S.
9:2800.6(B). Failure to prove any one of these factors is
fatal to her case. White v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
699 So.2dl081(La. 1997).
the case law, plaintiffs expert witness, nor argument or
evidence presented by Buchanan creates a genuine dispute of
material fact regarding the uneven pavement presenting an
unreasonable risk of harm. Buchanan attempts to first create
such an issue by establishing that the vertical difference in
height between the two slabs of concrete was unreasonably
high. She relies upon her own deposition testimony where she
estimated the difference in height to be 1.5 to 2 inches.
This statement is directly controverted by Wal-Mart's
physical evidence which show a ...