Louisiana Supreme Court: Denial of Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, Reversed

In recent Louisiana Supreme Court case Farrell v. Circle K, the Court reversed a trial court’s denial of Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment and clarified the disputed role an open and obvious condition plays in establishing liability. The Supreme Court stated that even though the breach of duty element for establishing liability involves a mixed question of law and fact, a court can still grant summary judgment “upon a finding that reasonable minds could only agree that the condition was not unreasonably dangerous; therefore, the defendant did not breach the duty owed.” Due to the open and obvious nature of the complained condition, the Louisiana Supreme Court determined that the defendants, Circle K and the City of Pineville, did not breach their duty owed to the Plaintiffs and were therefore entitled to Summary Judgment.

This decision clarified the precedent set by Broussard v. State ex rel. Office of State Buildings, which was subsequently misinterpreted by various courts, and established the proper usage of an open and obvious condition in the Risk/Utility Balancing test to determine breach of a duty. As a result, the Louisiana Supreme Court found that the large pool of standing water in Circle K’s parking lot that Plaintiff in Farrell was attempting to traverse was not unreasonably dangerous, so Defendants were not liable and thus entitled to summary judgment.

Read the full ruling here.