Tenant allegedly falls through floor of house, sues real estate company for negligence

By Chelsea Partington | Aug 18, 2014

Roberto A. Contreras

NEW ORLEANS – A New Orleans renter is suing the company that owns her house after a section of the home’s flooring allegedly gave way beneath her.

Viola Battle Cushenberry filed suit against Talebloo Real Estate LLC and Penn-America Insurance Company in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on July 28.

Cushenberry claims that in July 2013 she was a tenant of Talebloo Real Estate. The plaintiff alleges that she had been living at 2310 Laurel Street in New Orleans for approximately 20 years, but that Taleboo Real Estate had acquired the property in 2002. The home at 2310 Laurel Street is a raised-pier-wood shot gun double, according to the suit.

The plaintiff asserts that on July 26, 2013, she was organizing a move from the premises in response to a letter dated July 10, 2013 from Talebloo. The real estate company had allegedly requested that Cushenberry relocate so that they could "upgrade the property.”

On July 26, 2013, Cushenberry claims that she entered a room she did not ordinarily frequent and the floor gave way beneath her. The plaintiff avers that she landed on a section of the floor that did not collapse. The petition asserts that Cushenberry’s right leg dangled over the hole in the floor, while her left leg sprawled, causing her to assume an awkward and uncomfortable position.

Cushenberry alleges that she required the assistance of family members to help her stand up and move away from the cave-in, and states that the process was painful and laborious.

The plaintiff asserts that the floor that collapsed was decayed, rotted and/or infested with insects. Upon inspection of the space below the hole, Cushenberry and her family claim to have observed a large amount of wood, paper, and trash debris, which had laid directly under the floor through which she fell. The debris appeared to be old and comprised of paper, wood, plumbing fixtures, wire and other items, which seemed to have been left under the house.

Cushenberry contends that the rubbish had provided shelter for insect and animal life. Furthermore, the plaintiff claims to have observed an ideal environment for promotion of rot and or decay, which allegedly caused the floor though which petitioner fell to deteriorate.

Cushenberry alleges that over the 20 years she has rented the property, the house has fallen into a state of disrepair or "ruin" as a result of Talebloo's failure to remedy the purported obvious and ongoing dereliction of the building.

The plaintiff also believes that Talebloo encouraged the building's decay by installing tin sheets, which prevented access to the house's foundation and enclosed the debris under the house. The tin sheets also prevented ventilation underneath the house, and is thought to have caused the rot of the flooring, floor joists and sills which gave way causing Cushenberry's fall and consequent injuries.

According to the suit, Talebloo never inspected the underside, sides, interior or exterior of the premises and never took any steps to prevent the building's demise. Cushenberry alleges that the defendant knew about the building's condition, and that their knowledge is evidenced by their letter dated July 10, 2013, requesting her relocation so they could "upgrade the property."

The plaintiff seeks damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, interference with her usual lifestyle and all court costs.

Viola Battle Cushenberry is represented by attorney Joseph Neves Marcal III.

The case has been assigned to District H Pro Tempore Judge Lynn Luker.

Case no. 2014-07374.

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