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Case Number: 3:20-CV-677
Judge: Shelly D. Dick
Court: United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisana (Baton Rouge Parish)
Defendant's Attorney: Tarak Anada and Justin John Marocco
Description: Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury lawyer represented Plaintiff who sued Defendants on premises liability negligence theories.
Douglas tripped and fell while walking down concrete steps leading to the parking lot outside of an apartment building owned and operated by Defendants. He filed this premises-liability action against Defendants in Louisiana state court, seeking to recover for personal injuries; the action was removed to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction.
Louisiana’s substantive law applies in this diversity action. In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 206 (5th Cir. 2007). “Under Louisiana law, liability for damages caused by defective things in one’s custody or garde is governed by articles 2317 and 2317.1 of the Louisiana Civil Code.” Renwick v. PNK Lake Charles, L.L.C., 901 F.3d 605, 616 (5th Cir. 2018) (footnotes and citation omitted). “To recover for damages caused by a defective thing, a plaintiff must prove  that the thing was in the defendant’s custody,  that the thing contained a defect which presented
an unreasonable risk of harm to others,  that this defective condition caused damage and  that the defendant knew or should have known of the defect.” Id. (quoting Luquette v. Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC, 209 So.
3d 342, 348 (La. Ct. App. 2016)) (alteration in original).
Douglas fell when his right foot became stuck in a hole in the retaining wall abutting the steps that separated the steps from the surrounding grass. At his deposition, he testified both that he did not remember if he was looking
down while descending the steps and that he was not looking down when he fell. After discovery, Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing, inter alia, that Douglas had failed to show a genuine dispute of material fact
concerning whether there was a defect in the steps which presented an unreasonable risk of harm; Defendants contended that the condition of the concrete steps was “open and obvious” and therefore not unreasonably
Defendant moved for summary judgment on the second element.
Outcome: Motion granted and affirmed on appeal.