Maybe It’s You: First Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment in Premises Liability Case

In August 2011, a two year-old was at Independence Park in Baton Rouge with his grandmother to watch a football game. While the grandmother’s attention was diverted, the two-year-old climbed up the bleachers with a ten-year-old child. The two-year-old fell from the bleachers, landing on his back atop a concrete surface. The child’s parents sued the Recreation Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge (“BREC”) as the owner and operator of the park, pursuing damages for the two-year-old’s injuries as a result of the fall. The parents alleged that the bleachers were defective and that the bleacher’s caused the child’s injuries. BREC filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that there was no credible evidence of any defect and that BREC had no notice of any defect even if one existed. The district court agreed, granting BREC motion and dismissing the case.

On appeal, the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling, citing substantial evidence that there was no issue of material fact that a defect existed. BREC had presented an affidavit from its risk manager attesting to the fact that no complaints about the bleachers had ever been lodged. BREC also introduced deposition testimony of its representative, who testified that the bleachers had been at Independence Park since the 1980’s and that they were routinely inspected for safety hazards. Finally, BREC presented the testimony of the grandmother, who admitted that she did not know how the two-year-old child fell. The First Circuit concluded that there was an absence of factual support for essential elements of plaintiffs’ claims and found no error in the district court’s ruling in favor of BREC.

Hasbert v. The Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge

Daniel P. Sullivan