Judge denies summary judgment in post office slip and fall

By Glenn Minnis | May 13, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the  Eastern District of Louisiana has denied a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a case where a woman alleges she suffered serious injuries in a fall outside a U.S. Post Office facility where the walkway had not been adequately textured.

Tobie Ledet also alleges negligence on the part of the defendant stemming from a failure “to inspect, discover, maintain, and remedy the untextured walkway” outside its Metairie location.

Ledet lists her injuries as a concussion, herniated disk and shoulder tear that required surgery. Her husband, also a plaintiff, claimed that he was forced to exhaust all his sick days and annual leave while recuperating, and later had to turn to leave without pay. He said he also suffered loss of society.

In their motion for summary judgment, postal officials argued Ledet “failed to state a cause of action” and that her injuries were “caused by preexisting or subsequent conditions.”

 Lawyers for the postal service also asserted that “federal law limits plaintiff’s recovery for attorney fees, prejudgment damages and recovery.”

The motion also argued that summary judgment should be ordered because “plaintiff cannot demonstrate that the sidewalk on which she fell was defective or that defendant knew that it was defective.”

Defense attorneys also reasoned that Ledet was at least partly responsible for her own fall because of the slippery shoes she was wearing and that the testimony of her expert witness and treating physician should have been disallowed because a “treating physician is not considered an expert witness if he or she testifies about observations based on personal knowledge, including the treatment of the party.”

In an order signed by Judge Eldon E. Fallon, the court also denied the defendants' request to have testimony provided by Ledet’s treating physician stricken, while granting a request to limit the plaintiffs’ damages to the sum certain alleged in plaintiffs’ administrative claim.

“A court must assess the evidence, review the facts and draw any appropriate inferences based on the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment,” the court stipulated in its ruling. 

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