PREMISES LIABILITY – In Guillot v. Dolgencorp, LLC, CA 13-587 (La. App. 3 Cir. 11/27/13), the Third Circuit addressed whether a merchant had “constructive notice” of an alleged hazard on its premises. Video surveillance indicating that a cup was on the floor for at least two minutes prior to the accident, coupled with video surveillance showing that a discarded plastic bag was on the floor in another part of the store for ten minutes before the accident, was held to be “constructive notice” sufficient to impose liability upon a merchant under the Merchant Liability Statute, La. R.S. 9:2800.6.
INSURANCE – In Picou v. Fid. Nat. Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co, CIV.A. 13-5951, 2013 WL 6796865 (E.D. La. Dec. 23, 2013), the Eastern District of Louisiana held that an insurance agent was not liable for failing to advise a client as to whether he was underinsured or carried the right type of coverage. The court held that the agent has a duty of “reasonable diligence” to advise the client, but that this duty was not been expanded to include the obligation to advise whether the client has procured the correct amount or type of insurance coverage. The court cited to the insured’s own responsibility to request the type of insurance coverage and the amount of coverage needed.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE – In Luther v. IOM Company LLC, 2013-C-0353 (10/15/2013), the Supreme Court held that a medical diagnostic monitoring company and its employee/physician were not “qualified health care providers” (“QHCPs”) under the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act, LSA-R.S. 40:1299.41, et seq. (“MMA”), for purposes of alleged acts of medical malpractice. In Luther, the Patient’s Compensation Fund (“PCF”) forwarded a letter stating that the defendants were QHCPs. However, PCF later discovered that the defendants had not enrolled in the fund at the time of the alleged malpractice and therefore could not be QHCPs under the MMA.
The defendants claimed that they detrimentally relied on the actions of the PCF under Louisiana Civil Code article 1967. In order to prove detrimental reliance, they needed to establish three elements: 1) a representation by conduct or word; 2) justifiable reliance; and; 3) a change in position to one’s detriment because of the reliance. The Court rejected the claim of detrimental reliance and held that reliance on the PCF’s notice was not reasonable. The Court reasoned that the defendants knew they were not qualified or could have easily discovered the truth. Further, the Court observed that it is usually more difficult to show detrimental reliance upon a governmental agency.