Summary judgment upheld in favor of operator of gas station and convenience store in a slip/fall claim by plaintiff who failed to meet the stringent burden imposed by Louisiana’s premises liability statute, La. R.S. 9:2800.6

The premises liability statute continues to protect merchants when faced with spills that are not created by the merchant, or due to insufficient time and other circumstances, are not detected by merchants prior to a patron’s slip/fall. A patron slipped then fell in an oil slick located in a parking space while the patron walked from the store to her vehicle.  The appellate court held in favor of the operator of the gas station/convenience store by applying the “stringent” burden of proof imposed upon the patron by the La. premises liability statute for merchants under La. R.S. 9:2800.6. The pivotal issue in this case was that patron failed to prove actual or constructive notice (the temporal element which was the “essential element” that needed proof in this case) against the operator. Patron failed to establish that the oil spill existed for some period of time that was sufficient to place the operator on notice of the existence of the spill. The court reasoned that the evidence and arguments made by patron were mere speculation or suggestion, all insufficient, preventing patron from meeting her stringent burden of proof.

Finley v. Racetrac Petroleum, 48,923 (La. App. 2 Cir. 4/9/14); 137 So.3d 193

Plauché, Smith & Nieset is engaged in the insurance defense practice, concentrating on insurance defense litigation and business litigation in Calcasieu Parish, Cameron Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, Allen Parish, and Beauregard Parish.  Plauché, Smith & Nieset also engages in the insurance defense practice throughout the state of Louisiana.