Merchant and Premises Liability
Louisiana Premises Liability Attorney Defense Law Firm
We have been at the forefront of merchant liability and premises liability in Louisiana, representing businesses throughout Louisiana and the U.S. in claims at trial and appeal. Keogh Cox represents owners, insurers, risk managers, claims administrators and others in a wide array of industries and businesses, including:
- Local, regional and national-chain retailers
- Banks, educational entities, and commercial and industrial facilities of all types and sizes
- Restaurants, hotels and other businesses in the hospitality sector
- Convenience stores, their owners and operators often oil companies
- Residential properties, including apartment complexes
Our approach is to quickly evaluate a merchant or premises liability case for its trial potential and to marshal the facts, witnesses and, if needed, experts. Experience has taught us the value of close, timely communication with the client and their insurer, if any, and assessing the possibility of an early resolution to each case through motion practice, settlement or mediation. Despite our interest in a quick end to each case, we are willing and prepared to take a matter to trial if necessary, all the way to the end. We assign a legal team that knows and follows this area of the law and who have significant, on-going trial and appellate experience in it. In addition, our firm focuses on efficiency, having been paperless for more than a decade – this is one of many management techniques that save clients time and money. Our lawyers stay on top of case law and legislative developments in Louisiana and elsewhere in the U.S., monitoring and staying ahead of trends, offering clients in-house training and seminars, and producing an annual Survey of Louisiana Merchants Liability Law. Please contact us for the latest copy.
Recent Experience Highlights
Client Story: Representation of National Restaurant Chain to Secure a Zero Verdict
Where we started: Keogh Cox represents a number of national and restaurant chains. One particular client was faced with a questionable and defensible slip and fall claim. Our roadmap: Keogh Cox secured the dismissal of the claim via a Motion for Summary Judgment. The plaintiff appealed and the appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court. In the interim, reasonable settlement efforts were not successful. The client made the appropriate decision to fight the claim. Resolution: Because the successful trial court ruling was reversed by the appellate court, the case proceeded to a full jury trial. At the conclusion of trial, the jury returned a zero verdict in favor of the restaurant.
Client Story: Dismissal of Premises Liability Claim Filed Against International Convenience Store Chain
Where we started: A plaintiff claimed a trip and fall on an unmarked and unpainted curb that ran along the front of a store front. Our roadmap: Keogh Cox removed the case to federal court, which provided a more favorable venue in terms of possible success on a pre-trial motion. Resolution: After only one deposition, we successfully obtained the dismissal of the suit via motion practice. The Court ruled that a regular step up in good repair as seen in front of many local businesses is not an unreasonably dangerous condition.
Client Story: Defense of Claim that Parking Bumper/Stop is a Hazard
Where we started: As with many premises liability suits Keogh Cox has defended, a plaintiff claimed that an unpainted parking bumper was a hazard on which she tripped and fell. Our roadmap: Without taking even one deposition, and with the use of surveillance footage appropriately retained by the client, we filed a Motion for Summary Judgment wherein we argued an ordinary parking bumper in good repair is not unreasonably dangerous. Resolution: The Court granted the motion before discovery costs were incurred. Along with the avoidance of discovery costs, the client also avoided a possible adverse judgment in a claim where significant injuries and surgical intervention were at issue.
Client Story: Important Facts that Led to Dismissal of a Suit
Where we started: The plaintiff alleged that excessive degreaser caused an unreasonably dangerous condition on our client’s property and led to the plaintiff’s fall from his truck. Our roadmap: Through establishing the facts, including evidence of warning cones, a Motion for Summary Judgment was prepared and filed. Resolution: In the 21st Judicial District Court, Parish of Livingston, we obtained dismissal of the suit on motion practice.
Client Story: Protecting a Restauranteur in an Expensive Slip and Fall
Where we started: We represented a restauranteur sued in a “slip and fall” accident in the restroom of the premises. The plaintiff alleged that water rushed from the base of the toilet precipitating his fall. Our roadmap: Through the Motion, we contended that the plaintiff could not meet the “temporal” element under the slip and fall statute LSA-R.S. 9:2800.6. Resolution: The case, in the 25th Judicial District Court, Parish of Lafayette, was settled for nominal value under threat of a pending Motion for Summary Judgment.
Client Story: Signage in a Restroom
Where we started: We represented a restauranteur in a trip and fall matter where the plaintiff alleged a trip and fall on signage in the restroom. Our roadmap: Citing the plaintiff’s burden, a Motion for Summary Judgment was filed and granted on the basis of the plaintiff’s inability to meet her burden of proof. Resolution: This case occurred in the 23rd Judicial District Court, Parish of Ascension.
Client Story: A Case that Began at a Gasoline Pump
Where we started: The plaintiff alleged that he was injured when soaked by gasoline at the pump owned and operated by our client. Our roadmap: The case was filed in the 21st Judicial District Court, Parish of Livingston. Through discovery, we developed evidence that the alleged defect, if it occurred, was intermittent and not reasonably known to our client. Resolution: Thereafter, we filed and obtained a dismissal of the claim in which the plaintiff alleged significant damages.
More Details about Merchant and Premises Liability
Keogh Cox is known for our representation and experience with all aspects of merchant and premises liability in Louisiana, including involvement in several reported cases and a recent decision from the Louisiana Supreme Court. Our experience includes:
- Application of the Open and Obvious Defect defense, the legal concept that a landowner has a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition, even where the defect in question is open and obvious
- The Louisiana Merchant Liability Statute
- Regulation of slip and fall claims by statute, including foreseeable risk of harm, actual or constructive prior notice of a condition and failure to exercise reasonable care
- Falling merchandise
- Rainy day obligations
- No strict liability for premises defects or conditions
- Crimes of violence on business premises, including violence by third parties, elements of recovery and reduction through Fault of Third-Parties” defense and violence by employees
- Claimant-related issues
- Preservation of evidence
- Shoplifting, detention, defamation and relayed issues, including merchant’s privilege to protect against shoplifting, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and defamation
- Responsibility of lessee for property defects
- Responsibility of the seller of a defective thing
- Food provider liability, including the duty to act as a reasonable person skilled in the culinary art of selection and preparation of food and the causal relationship between illness or injury and food consumption
- Joint and several liability and solidarity liability, including intentional tortfeasors
- Interest on judgment, including calculating interest and the impact of interest on an insurer