Can a LLC Recover Damages for a Member’s Slip and Fall?

In Louisiana, corporations and business entities are juridical persons that often have rights similar to natural persons, i.e. humans. A recent decision by the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal helps clarify the legal distinctions between juridical and natural persons. In that case, Deborah Norred, the sole member of American Rebel Arms, LLC (“LLC”), suffered bodily injuries as the result of a slip and fall in a restaurant in Jefferson Parish. Individual lawsuits were thereafter filed by both Norred and the LLC against the restaurant. In her capacity as the sole member of the LLC, Norred alleged that due to her injuries she was unable to open the LLC as originally scheduled, thus resulting in business losses. The restaurant filed a motion asserting that a LLC has no cause of action for personal injuries caused to its sole member. The district court sustained the motion and dismissed the LLC’s claims with prejudice.

On appeal, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit noted that the purpose of a peremptory motion for no cause of action is to address whether, on the face of the petition, accepting all allegations as true, if there is a valid cause of action for relief. As the plaintiff’s claims sounded in negligence, the sole issue was whether the restaurant owed the LLC a legal duty. The court noted that duties that arise under the Louisiana Merchant Liability Statute only extend to natural persons, not juridical persons such as LLCs. Because the restaurant did not owe a duty to the LLC, it had no valid cause of action stemming from Norred’s slip and fall. The district court’s dismissal of the LLC was affirmed.

American Rebel Arms, LLC v. New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company