Louisiana Court of Appeal Upholds Dismissal of Slip and Fall Case Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Prove Supermarket Owner had Constructive Notice

There are many different ways that you can become injured on another person’s property, but one of the most common examples is a slip and fall incident. As seasoned Louisiana premises liability lawyers, we have helped many victims assert their right to compensation after a property owner failed to exercise appropriate care in keeping its premises safe.

In a recent appellate opinion, a plaintiff appealed from a motion dismissing his slip and fall personal injury lawsuit against a grocery store operator. According to his complaint, the plaintiff slipped on spilled rice in the supermarket. The defendant answered the complaint, denying the allegations, and later moved for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff had not proven that the defendant had actual notice or constructive notice that the rice had spilled. The defendant also contended that the record lacked any evidence that the defendant failed to use reasonable care.

The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff filed a brief opposing the motion but did not attach any evidence or supporting affidavits. After the hearing, the trial court granted the motion, thereby dismissing the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the lower court erred in granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

On review, the appellate court examined the evidence in the record and concluded that the plaintiff failed to offer any evidence showing that he would be able to satisfy his burden of proof under the applicable Louisiana merchant liability statute governing constructive notice in slip and fall cases. Under Louisiana law, a merchant has constructive notice when the plaintiff proves that the dangerous condition existed for a long enough period of time that the defendant should have discovered it had it been exercising reasonable care. There is no bright line determination for how much time must pass. Instead, the plaintiff must show that the dangerous condition existed for some length of time before the slip and fall took place.

Even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the evidence showed that there was likely only a 10-minute window during which the rice could have spilled onto the floor before the plaintiff slipped. The evidence showed that the floor was swept at 11:45 am and that the plaintiff slipped sometime around noon. The appellate court concluded that this was not a sufficient period of time to put the store operator on notice that the spill had occurred. The record also lacked any evidence that the defendant was aware of the spill and failed to address it. As a result of these conclusions, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit.

If you were injured on another person’s property as a result of a dangerous condition, contact our seasoned Louisiana premises liability lawyers today. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about your legal rights and whether you may be entitled to compensation. Call us now at (225) 929-7481 or contact us online to get started.

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