Premises Liability – Supreme Court reverses District Court and Court of Appeal and grants Summary Judgment – Jones v. Browne, CDC Suit No. 2019-4000

On November 22, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a rare per curiam opinion in which the court reversed the district court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal and granted the defense Motion for Summary Judgment in a premises liability case.  In Jones, the Plaintiff was a concrete contractor working at a private residence owned by the defendants when his arm contacted an electrical wire sticking out of a junction box.  The defense moved for summary judgment on the basis that the homeowners did not know nor should they have known of the electrical defect.  At the time, the homeowners did not live in the house and there was no evidence anyone told them about the defect. 

The district court denied the defense Motion for Summary Judgment and the Fourth Circuit denied the defense writ application on a 3-2 vote.  Thereafter, the defense appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court.  In turn, the Court granted the writ, and remanded the case back to the Fourth Circuit for briefing, oral argument and a written opinion.  On remand, the Fourth Circuit denied the writ a second time.  From there, the defense filed another writ of certiorari to the Louisiana Supreme Court.  On the second writ application, the Supreme Court reversed both the district court and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. Specifically, the Court found that Plaintiff failed to present evidence of a material issue of fact regarding the homeowner’s constructive knowledge of the defect. The Court granted summary judgment and dismissed the homeowners with prejudice.