Katrina Claim Survives Because of Relation Back Doctrine

On August 4, 2006, Chinita Weber filed a lawsuit against Metropolitan Hospice alleging wrongful death and survival claims on behalf of her aunt, Mary London, who died at the facility in the days following Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane impacted the New Orleans area on August 29, 2005. Ms. Weber asserted that Metropolitan Hospice was negligent in causing her aunt’s death for two reasons. First, the facility was negligent in failing to evacuate in advance of Hurricane Katrina. Second, the facility was negligent in failing to provide adequate backup electrical power, thereby subjecting her aunt to extreme heat and unsanitary conditions, which she claimed ultimately caused her aunt’s death.

Metropolitan Hospice filed an exception of no right of action, arguing that the Louisiana statutes governing wrongful death and survival claims did not allow Ms. Weber the right to bring such claims on behalf of her aunt. Louisiana law permits only limited classes of beneficiaries to bring such claims, and a niece does not qualify as such a beneficiary. The trial court granted the exception, but allowed Ms. Weber thirty days to amend her petition to properly state a claim.

Ms. Weber had herself appointed as representative of her aunt’s succession, and filed an amended petition asserting wrongful death and survival claims as her aunt’s succession representative. Metropolitan Hospice responded by filing two exceptions: (1) an exception of no right of action arguing that as succession representative, Ms. Weber had no right to assert a wrongful death claim, and (2) an exception of prescription arguing that Ms. Weber’s survival claim was not timely asserted. The trial court granted both motions, and Ms. Weber appealed.

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court’s decision. With regard to the exception of no right of action, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Ms. Weber’s wrongful death claim because Louisiana law does not allow a succession representative the right to bring a wrongful death claim. Nevertheless, the appellate court noted that a successor representative does have the right to bring a survival claim on behalf of the deceased person. Thus, whether Ms. Weber could continue pursuing the survival claim hinged on whether the appellate court agreed that the survival claim was untimely.

Louisiana law requires that survival claims be filed within one year from the date of the decedent’s death. While undoubtedly Ms. Weber filed her original 2006 lawsuit within one year of her aunt’s death, the key issue was whether the filing of her amended complaint in 2011 could relate back to the date that she filed her original lawsuit on August 4, 2006.

In accordance with Louisiana’s relation back doctrine, four factors determine whether an amended petition that either adds or substitutes a plaintiff can be treated as if it were filed on the date that the original petition was filed. They are: (1) if the amended claim arises out of the same conduct, transaction or occurrence as the original claim, (2) the defendant knew or should have known of the involvement of the new plaintiff, (3) the new and old plaintiffs are sufficiently related so that the new party is not entirely new or unrelated, and (4) the defendant is not prejudiced in preparing its defense. The appellate court determined that Ms. Weber’s amended lawsuit met these requirements.

The court’s analysis did not end there, however. If Ms. Weber’s claims against Metropolitan Hospice could be considered medical malpractice claims rather than negligence claims, then her claims would still be untimely since Louisiana law requires that medical malpractice claims be filed within three years of the date of the decedent’s death without exception. Relying on other Louisiana decisions involving similar Katrina-related claims, the appellate court determined that Ms. Weber’s claims were not, in fact, medical malpractice claims. Accordingly, the court held that Ms. Weber’s survival claims were timely as her amended complaint related back to the date that she filed her original lawsuit.

Take-Away: In cases where someone has died as a result of the alleged negligence of a premises owner, the owner may be sued for damages sustained by the decedent prior to his death and damages sustained by surviving family members as a result of their loss. 

This article was co-authored by Lizzi Richard, an associate at Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC

Hospital within a Hospital: Lessor Cannot Escape Duty of Care to Lessee's Patients

Less than one month before Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, Gordon Serou, Jr. was admitted to the Specialty Hospital of New Orleans (“SHONO”), a long term acute care facility located on the seventh floor of the Touro Infirmary (“Touro”). SHONO leased the space from Touro.

Mr. Serou sheltered at SHONO during Hurricane Katrina, but unfortunately, he did not survive. As a result, his wife and children filed a premises liability lawsuit against SHONO, Touro, and Aggreko, LLC (“Aggreko”), Touro’s emergency generator services contractor. Plaintiffs argued that SHONO and Touro failed to evacuate their patients and failed to ensure that the hospitals were equipped with proper life-sustaining equipment, staff, and resources. Plaintiffs further argued that Aggreko breached its obligation to the hospitals’ patients because it failed to provide adequate emergency generator power in accordance with its service agreement with Touro. The plaintiffs settled with SHONO and Aggreko, leaving their premises liability claim against Touro to be disposed of at trial.

The plaintiffs had the burden of proving that Touro owed a duty to Mr. Serou, that it breached that duty, that the breach of its duty was the cause of Mr. Serou’s death, and that plaintiffs are owed damages as a result. While Touro did not contest that it owed a duty of care to Mr. Serou, it argued that it merely held a duty to protect him against known defects in the premises. The court disagreed.

The plaintiffs’ claim against Touro involved the interpretation of its lease agreement between SHONO and Touro. Under the terms of the lease, SHONO operated as a hospital within a hospital, meaning that it hired its own staff and provided all of the clinical and medical care to its patients. The only services to be provided by Touro to the SHONO patients were “auxiliary,” such as transportation and therapy. Nevertheless, the lease agreement specifically required both Touro and SHONO work together to prepare for disasters. Moreover, the agreement also required that Touro comply with the standards prescribed by the Joint Commission of the Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (“JCAHO”). In accordance with JCAHO standards, Touro had to provide adequate ventilation (i.e., conditioned air) to all of its patients, including those housed within SHONO.

The court determined that both the lease agreement and the JCAHO standards required Touro to provide SHONO patients certain emergency functions, including emergency backup power and conditioning. The evidence demonstrated that Touro could have and should have provided SHONO spot coolers and should have broken SHONO’s windows to create ventilation, but it failed to do so. Because the plaintiffs demonstrated that Mr. Serou’s death by hyperthermia was directly linked to the lack of adequate ventilation, Touro was held liable. While the court found SHONO primarily at fault for Mr. Serou’s death, Touro was apportioned 30% of the fault.

Take-Away: By contractually agreeing to jointly prepare for emergencies, and by enjoying accreditation with the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (“JCAHO”), Touro committed itself to ensuring safety and care to the patients of SHONO, the hospital within its hospital.

This article was co-authored by Lizzi Richard, an associate at Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC.

Watch Your Step - Holding the Owner of a Sidewalk Liable for Damages from a Fall is No Easy Task

In September 2009, Delores Casborn was on her way to visit a patient at West Jefferson Medical Center when she caught her foot on an uneven section of the walkway next to the hospital’s parking garage and fell to the ground. As a result of the fall, Ms. Casborn claimed to have suffered injuries to her foot, neck, and shoulder. She subsequently sued West Jefferson Medical Center and the Road District for damages.

After conducting discovery, the Road District filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the disparity in the height of the sidewalk stones did not create an unreasonable risk of harm, and even assuming the sidewalk was unreasonably dangerous there was no evidence of actual or constructive notice of the defect. In support of its motion, the Road District provided evidence that during the two months prior to the accident there were six requisitions for sidewalk repair in Jefferson Parish, but none referred to the particular area where Ms. Casborn fell. Further, records for the period of January 2009 and September 2009 showed that the Public Works Office had received no reports of defective conditions or resulting accidents in the particular area of sidewalk. Although some records indicated that Jefferson Parish had recently performed patching of holes near the hospital, these repairs were not in the area where Ms. Casborn fell. In opposition, Ms. Casborn provided photos showing a disparity in the height of the sidewalk stones of approximately two inches in the area where she fell. She further asserted that after her fall “some type of cement substance” had been placed there to eliminate the hazard.  Lastly, Ms. Casborn provided an affidavit of a hospital employee stating that she knew of the defect in the sidewalk. After considering the evidence offered by both parties, the trial court granted summary judgment and dismissed all of Ms. Casborn’s claims against the Road District. Ms. Casborn appealed the ruling to the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.

The appellate court first noted that in order to hold a public entity liable for an alleged defect in the premises, a plaintiff must establish that: (1) the thing which caused the damage was in the defendant’s custody, (2) the thing had a condition which created an unreasonable risk of harm, (3) the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the defect, and (4) the defect was a cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injuries. The only two issues before the court were whether the sidewalk created an unreasonable risk of harm and whether the Road District had actual or constructive knowledge of the defect.

To determine whether a defect is unreasonably dangerous, courts weigh the gravity and risk of harm against the utility of the thing and cost and feasibility of repair. The vice or defect must create a dangerous condition that would reasonably be expected to cause injury to a prudent person exercising ordinary care under the circumstances. While there is no fixed rule, courts routinely have held that a minor deviation in sidewalk elevations do not present an unreasonable risk of harm. Applying the risk / utility analysis, the court of appeal found that the deviation in the sidewalk did not create an unreasonably dangerous condition.

The court next considered whether the Road District had actual or constructive knowledge of the defect under La. R.S. 9:2800 (pdf). Under this statute, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the “public entity had actual or constructive notice of the particular vice or defect which caused the damage prior to the occurrence, and the public entity has had a reasonable opportunity to remedy the defect and has failed to do so.” The court of appeal concluded that the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient factual support to satisfy her burden of proof at trial on the essential element of notice and affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. 

Take-Away: Simply because a person is injured on an uneven sidewalk does not necessarily equal liability on the part of the owner of the premises. Courts generally do not consider minor deviations in sidewalk elevations as unreasonably dangerous. And, even assuming a defect is found to exist, the plaintiff still has the burden of proving that the public entity had actual or constructive notice of its existence.

This article was co-authored by Josh Christie, an associate at Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC.

Butter and Jelly on Cafeteria Floor Alone Does Not A Claim Against a Public Entity Make

While his daughter was undergoing surgery at East Jefferson General Hospital, Michael Carreras and his wife, Julie, went to the hospital cafeteria for breakfast. After stopping at the beverage station, Mr. Carreras headed toward the cashier when he slipped on some butter and jelly on the floor and fell. Mr. and Mrs. Carreras filed a lawsuit against the hospital - Carreras v. Jefferson Parish Hosp. Service Dist. No. 2, No. 11-1163  asserting both negligence and strict liability theories of liability.

The existence of butter and jelly on the cafeteria floor and the fact that Mr. Carreras had fallen were uncontested. The proceeding was bifurcated, and the trial judge tried the issue of liability. She entered a judgment in favor of the hospital, to which the plaintiffs appealed. 

In its analysis, the Fifth Circuit confirmed that the applicable statute in a premises liability action against a public entity is La. R. S. 9:2800 (pdf), which requires the plaintiff to show (1) that the public entity had actual or constructive notice of the vice or defect of a thing within its care and custody and (2) that the public entity had reasonable opportunity to remedy the defect, but failed to do so.

Plaintiffs argued that notwithstanding the application of La. R.S. 9:2800 to their strict liability claim, their negligence claim only requires that they show that a fall occurred and that injury resulted from a foreign substance on the premises. Plaintiffs further argued that once they made that showing, the burden shifted to the public entity defendant to absolve the presumption of negligence. The Louisiana Fifth Circuit disagreed, however, and held that under either theory of liability (i.e., negligence or strict liability), the plaintiff must show that the public entity either had actual or constructive notice of the foreign substance on the floor.

Because the judgment was based on a factual determination as to whether the hospital had actual or constructive notice of the butter and jelly on the floor, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit applied the manifest error standard of review and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. In doing so, the court found that plaintiff presented no evidence demonstrating that the hospital had actual knowledge of the butter and jelly on the floor of the cafeteria, and there was ample testimony “to support the ultimate conclusion that condition had not existed for such a time that the hospital must have known of the problem and failed to correct it.”

Take-Away: In claims against a public entity, whether sounding in negligence or strict liability, the plaintiff has the burden of establishing that the entity had actual or constructive notice of the alleged vice or defect.

This article was co-authored by Lizzi Richard, an associate at Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC.

Hearing Voices: Unidentified Voice Commenting on Allegedly Defective Door Fails to Defeat Hospital's Summary Judgment Motion

Carrie Hebert, a visitor at the West Jefferson Medical Center, allegedly was hit by a door that closed too fast, catching her sandal, and causing her to fall to the ground and sustain injuries. Ms. Hebert subsequently filed suit against the hospital in Hebert v. Jefferson Parish Hospital District

Ms. Hebert’s tort claim against the hospital, a public entity, was pursued under several legal theories, including strict liability under LSA-C.C. art. 2317 (pdf) and LSA-R.S. 9:2800 (pdf) and negligence under LSA-C.C. art. 2315 (pdf). Under all these theories, however, the legal analysis is the same. Namely, the plaintiff bears the burden of showing that (1) the public entity had custody of the thing that caused the plaintiff’s injuries or damages; (2) the thing was defective because it had a condition that created an unreasonable risk of harm; (3) the public entity had actual or constructive knowledge of the defect and did not take corrective measures within a reasonable time; and (4) the defect in the thing was a cause-in-fact of the plaintiff’s injuries. Failing to prove any one of these elements would result in the dismissal of Ms. Hebert’s case.

After considering these factors, the trial court found that Ms. Hebert could not bear her burden of proof that the hospital had actual or constructive notice of the defect in the door prior to the incident at hand. The court noted that constructive notice can be found if the conditions which caused the injury existed for such a period of time that those responsible, by the exercise of ordinary care and diligence, must have known of their existence in general and could have guarded the public from injury. However, the only evidence plaintiff was able to offer in support of her position was that after she fell she overheard an unidentified person say that she “knew something was going to happen with that door.”

The hospital, on the other hand, was able to establish that there had been no reported problems with the door or injuries attributed to the door prior to Ms. Hebert’s fall. And, four hospital employees confirmed that they were not aware of any problems or accidents with the door. Given these facts, the trial court concluded that Ms. Hebert’s claim that she overheard an unidentified person make a statement about the door did not possess the requisite evidentiary value to defeat the hospital’s motion for summary judgment. The appellate court agreed and affirmed the dismissal of Ms. Hebert’s claims. 

Take-Away:  In a case involving a public hospital, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the hospital had actual or constructive notice of the alleged defect prior to the incident occurring. In those cases where the overwhelming evidence supports the premises owner’s position that it had no notice of the defect, summary dismissal of the case will not be avoided simply because of the self-serving testimony of the plaintiff that she overheard an unidentified witness state that there had been prior problems with the allegedly defective thing.

Sofa-Bed Is Not Only Uncomfortable, But Downright Dangerous

While visiting her grandson at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, Judy Crooks allegedly was injured after sitting on a sofa bed that collapsed due to missing springs in the bed’s support system. Subsequently, Mrs. Crooks filed a lawsuit against the Southwest Hospital Association—Crooks v. Southwest Louisiana Hosp. Assoc.   At the conclusion of trial, the judge granted a directed verdict in favor of Mrs. Crooks on the issue of liability and the hospital’s defenses of causation and comparative fault. The judge submitted the issue of damages alone to the jury, which awarded Mrs. Crooks $115,000 in past medical expenses, but no other damages. The trial court then granted Mrs. Crooks’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and reduced the jury’s medical expense award from $115,000 to $70,000. However, the court also awarded damages of $12,000 in future medical expenses, $150,000 in physical pain and suffering, $15,000 in mental pain and anguish, and $30,000 in loss of enjoyment of life. Both parties appealed. 

On appeal, Mrs. Crooks claimed that the trial court erred in reducing the award for past medical expenses, while the hospital alleged a number of assignments of error, including the trial court’s granting of a directed verdict on the issues of liability, causation, and comparative fault. On those issues, the court of appeal concluded that Mrs. Crooks was not entitled to a directed verdict, and accordingly, reversed the judgment of the trial court. Next, the appellate court decided to conduct a de novo review of the record and fully adjudicate the matter rather than remanding the case to the trial court.

On the merits of the case, the appellate court considered whether, underLa.Civ.Code art. 2317.1 (pdf), the plaintiff proved as a prerequisite fact finding that the accident occurred, and if so that: (1) the sofa bed was in the hospital’s custody or control, (2) the sofa had a vice or defect that presented an unreasonable risk of harm, (3) the hospital knew or should have known of the defect, (4) the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and (5) the hospital failed to exercise such reasonable care. First, the court concluded the accident did occur based on the direct testimony of Mrs. Crooks and her daughter-in-law. The court noted that this testimony was the only direct evidence of the facts surrounding the accident and that the testimony presented by the hospital (that no one reported the accident and had the accident occurred there would have been a written incident report) was indirect and therefore the probative weight of the conflicting testimony was in favor of the accident occurring. Second, the court noted that it was undisputed that the sofa bed was in the hospital’s custody and control and that the lack of springs in the bed clearly presented an unreasonable risk of harm. Next, the court concluded that the hospital had constructive knowledge of the defect because there was no procedure in place for inspecting the hospital’s sofa beds, and had the bed been inspected the missing springs would have been discovered. And finally, the injury could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care—that is, the hospital’s regular inspection of its furniture. The court of appeal then rendered judgment awarding Mrs. Crooks $115,679.23 in medical expenses, $200,000 for physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life and $30,000 for future medical expenses.

Take-Away: Property owners must not only routinely inspect their facilities for defects, whether readily apparent or not, but they must also inspect furnishings and other items that could potentially lead to injuries of visitors.

This article was co-authored by Kelly E. Brilleaux, an associate at Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC

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Slip and Fall Plaintiff's Case Slips On Statutory Burden of Proof

In Hoffman v. Jefferson Parish Hospital Services District No. 2, the plaintiff sued East Jefferson General Hospital (EJGH) for injuries she allegedly sustained during a slip and fall. More specifically, while visiting her twin children at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, Ms. Hoffman entered the hospital’s break room seeking a cup of coffee and slipped on a wet substance on the floor, injuring her left knee.

After trial of the matter, the judge ruled in favor of EJGH dismissing Ms. Hoffman’s claims against the hospital. In its reasons for judgment, the court noted that EJGH had exculpated itself of any presumption of negligence by exercising reasonable care through its formal inspection and cleaning policies and furthermore the evidence submitted by Ms. Hoffman did not support a finding that EJGH had actual or constructive notice of the wet substance on the floor prior to the fall.

On appeal, Ms. Hoffman alleged that the trial court incorrectly found that (1) she was required to prove EJGH had actual or constructive notice of the wet substance because that standard of law does not apply to hospitals and (2) EJGH acted reasonably to discover and correct the dangerous condition. As to the first issue on appeal, Ms. Hoffman contended that Louisiana’s Merchant Statute, La. R. S. 9:2800 (pdf) and following, does not apply to hospitals such as EJGH and thus she did not have to prove actual or constructive notice of the wet substance on the floor. In support of her position, Ms. Hoffman relied on cases involving private facilities where the courts held that Louisiana’s Merchant statute did not apply to hospitals and nursing homes. 

EJGH distinguished these cases on the basis that the language of Louisiana’s Merchant Statute expressly applies to public entities. 

“no person shall have a cause of action . . . against a public entity for damages caused by the condition of things within its care and custody unless the public entity had actual or constructive notice of the particular vice or defect which caused the damage prior to the occurrence, and the public entity has had a reasonable opportunity to remedy the defect and has failed to do so.”

The appellate court also cited Blount v. East Jefferson General Hospital, a prior slip and fall case against EJGH. In Blount, the court upheld summary judgment against a plaintiff who made a slip and fall claim against EJGH because the plaintiff had failed to demonstrate actual or constructive notice as required by the statute. Applying Louisiana’s Merchant Statute and Blount, the court held that because Ms. Hoffman had failed to demonstrate that EJGH had actual or constructive notice of the spill, she could not recover from the hospital.

The court also rejected Ms. Hoffman’s argument that the trial court erred in finding that EJGH had acted reasonably to discover and correct dangerous conditions in the break room. In doing so, the court noted that EJGH presented evidence that its employees regularly inspected public areas of the hospital and promptly remedied any spills or other dangerous conditions those inspections revealed.

Take-Away:  A person asserting a premises liability claim against a public entity of the State of Louisiana—including a public hospital—must prove under Louisiana’s Merchant Statute and underlying case law that the entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition that caused her injury.

This article was co-authored by Mark Holden, a summer associate at Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC.

Are Cigarette Butts Bad For Your Health?

Although, it is well known that cigarette smoke can be harmful to a person’s health, cigarette butts can also be dangerous.  The question decided by the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Adams v. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport (“LSUHSC”), was whether, as a matter of law, LSUHSC, a public facility, is exempt from responsibility for the damages Sherry Adams sustained when she fell on a wet cigarette butt located on a handicap entrance ramp to the facility. 

On August 9, 2005, Ms. Adams, an off-duty LSUHC employee, slipped and fell when she was going to visit her uncle who was a patient in the hospital. As a result of the fall, Ms. Adams sustained serious injuries to her right hand, fingers, and right ankle. She sued LSUHSC alleging that, at the time of the incident, the ramp was unreasonably dangerous and defective because of the collection of cigarette butts on the ramp.  She further alleged that LSUHSC knew or should have known of the unreasonably dangerous condition or defect associated with the collection of cigarette butts and that the condition could have been prevented if the hospital had exercised reasonable care.

After sufficient discovery, LSUHSC filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted. The trial court found that: (1) Ms. Adams claims arose under La. C. C. art. 2317 (pdf), which imparts liability upon owners for damages caused by their defective things, and La. R.S. 9:2800 (pdf), Louisiana’s statute limiting liability for public entities arising from public property; (2) Ms. Adams could not meet her burden of proof against LSUHSC; and, (3) the accumulation of cigarette butts did not constituted a defective condition or an unreasonably dangerous condition as contemplated by law. 

On appeal, the Second Circuit reversed and remanded the case to the trial court, holding that the trial court had incorrectly applied Louisiana law regarding a defective condition in property and that Ms. Adams’ claims against LSUHSC were correctly asserted under La.C.C. art. 2315 (pdf), Louisiana’s general tort law. The Second Circuit relied upon its own prior ruling in Holden v. Louisiana State University Medical Center-Shreveport in which it held that La. C.C. art. 2317  and La.R.S. 9:2800 do not apply when a person slips and falls on a foreign substance located on a premises. The court explained that there is a difference between “a defect in the premises” and “a defect on the premises.” Therefore, the court concluded that “the temporary presence of a foreign substance is not, in and of itself, a defect for purposes of strict liability under La. C.C. 2317” and, by extension, La. R.S. 9:2800. Rather, in such cases, the court held that negligence is measured by La. C.C. art. 2315. 

The court also noted that a hospital owes a duty to its visitors to exercise reasonable care to keep its premises in a safe condition commensurate with the particular substance involved but that the standard of care for a hospital is lower than that for a merchant. The Second Circuit held that, because the trial court applied the incorrect law, the trial court failed to consider the relationship between the risk of someone slipping and falling on cigarette butts located on the handicap ramp and the reasonableness of the measures taken by the hospital to eliminate that risk. 

In addition, after conducting a complete review of the trial court summary judgment record, the Court concluded that Ms. Adams had identified material issues of fact that precluded summary judgment. Among the disputed facts was that: (1) LSUHSC had some knowledge of the cigarette butts at the entrance where Ms. Adams fell; (2) someone was supposed to clean the entranceway where Ms. Adams fell; and, (3) the person who cleaned the entrance may not have done it regularly. Moreover, the Court held that the evidence in the record was enough to provide factual support that LSUHSC had actual or constructive notice of the cigarette butts on the ramp. The Court also held that it was a jury’s function, not the court’s, to decide if LSUHSC’s policy for keeping the entrance ramp clean was reasonable. The Court, ultimately, held that LSUHSC failed to carry its initial burden of proving there was no genuine issue of material fact and that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Take-Away: The Adams case demonstrates that a state run hospital can not rely upon La. R.S. 9:2800 to exempt it from its general duties to keep its premises safe. This case also demonstrates that a hospital cannot prevail on a summary judgment if the plaintiff establishes that the hospital may have had some knowledge of a potentially defective condition or did not have a policy to reasonably rectify a known defective condition.