Patricia Richardson was visiting Boomtown Casino when she slipped and fell on a die on the floor. The accident occurred while Richardson was walking by the craps table and talking to her brother. Richardson filed suit against the casino operators, alleging that she sustained injury as the result of the fall – Richardson v. Louisiana-1 Gaming, et al. The defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting that Richardson could not show that they had breached their duty of care. Defendants also argued that they did not have actual or constructive knowledge of the die on the floor before Richardson’s fall. The trial court granted defendants’ motion on the grounds that Richardson assumed the risk. The trial court reasoned that casino patrons have a heightened duty to look for dice on the floor near a dice table.
On appeal, Richardson argued that the assumption of risk doctrine had been abolished in Louisiana. She also asserted that there was an issue of fact as to whether the accident was foreseeable. The appellate court agreed with Richardson that the assumption of risk doctrine had been abolished in Louisiana. But the court upheld the ruling of the trial court on the ground that the damage-causing condition had not existed for a period of time before Richardson fell. In doing so, the appellate court relied on the undisputed testimony of the games supervisor at Boomtown, Jada Muhammad. Muhammad testified that the die was thrown by another player, bounced off the table, and landed on the floor. Richardson stepped on the die immediately after it hit the floor. Because Richardson stepped on the die just after it landed, the court reasoned that the defendants did not have constructive notice of the condition as required under La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.6 (pdf). Thus, Richardson could not prevail on her negligence claim.
Take-Away: A premises owner is not liable where the condition that causes the plaintiff’s injury does not exist for some period of time before the occurrence.
This article was co-authored by Camala Capodice, a member of Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC.