Orleans Parish Judge Herbert Cade has denied a motion by Loyola University of New Orleans in a premises liability suit filed against the school by a former food attendant.

Andrew Johnson is suing Loyola University, claiming the school is liable for injuries he sustained after he tripped on a "defective floor drain," resulting in a ruptured disc and a torn rotator cuff.

New Orleans attorney Kenny Charbonnet filed the suit in May 2009. It claims Loyola knew of the defect in the kitchen were Johnson worked and did not repair the defect until after his accident.

Loyola attorney Gregory McDonald filed a motion for summary judgment in January. It had sought to dismiss all charges against the school because Johnson was a statutory employee of Loyola at the time of the accident.

The motion claimed that, as Johnson's statutory employer, Loyola is "immune from the tort claims asserted herein in accordance with" La. R.S. 23:1032 & 1061.

"The exclusive remedy for the plaintiff ... lies, not in tort, but rather in workers' compensation," McDonald argued.

Johnson worked as an employee for Sodexo, a multi-billion dollar French company employed by Loyola to run fast food services on the University's campus.

The defense claimed that the statutory employer/employee relationship is established in the contract between Loyola and Sodexo.

The plaintiff countered that the "purported statutory employer distinction is ineffective" because it does not include "any language which would unequivocally require Loyola to undertake the obligations of a statutory employer."

Loyola's contract with Sodexo lacks the proper language as to the University's responsibilities in relation to workers' compensation, the plaintiffs argued.

The contract also fails to establish Loyola as a statutory employer under Louisiana statutes because it also fails to prove that the fast food services are "integral or essential to Loyola as a University," the plaintiffs said.

Judge Cade's ruling in favor of the plaintiff allows him to seek tort damages in this claim.

Orleans Parish Case 2009-04845

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