Housekeeper who tripped while taking out trash awarded $26k

David Yates Apr. 9, 2008, 7:42am

Charles Gordon Reed

A housekeeper who tripped over a crack in a driveway while hauling a bag of rubbish to the curb was awarded nearly $27,000 in damages, as the trial of Gloria Landry vs. R.F. DuBois Jr. began and concluded April 8.

Landry worked as a housekeeper for DuBois for nearly two decades. She sued him in 2006 after injuring her knee while carrying a large bag of garbage.

For 17 years Landry managed to avoid tripping over any cracks running through DuBois' concrete driveway until June 8, 2005. In her suit, Landry says her part-time employer was negligent for "failing to maintain his property…and warn her of the dangerous condition."

Landry testified that she had been aware of the cracks' locations for at least seven years and had walked by them a minimum 364 times.

However, Landry said even though she knew about the dangerous condition, DuBois had a duty to warn and safeguard her.

Jurors agreed, awarding Landry $12,383.35 in past medical expenses, $9,620 in past physical pain and mental anguish suffered and $4,810 in lost wages.

An approved motion in limine prohibited DuBois' lawyer from using the "no-duty doctrine" and mentioning that Landry was well aware of the condition of the driveway and failed to use caution while taking out the trash.

During the trial, the defense asked Landry if any of the other homes she worked at had cracks running through the walkways.

Landry said no.

The defense presented her with pictures of one of the homes where she works, revealing cracks in the drive/walkway.

Landry responded by saying she never uses the front entrance of that residence and failed to notice the cracks.

Landry also testified that she never considered the cracks at DuBois' residence to be an unsafe condition, until she was hurt.

The trial was supposed to begin Dec. 11, 2007, in Judge Bob Wortham's 58th District Court, but was reset for April.

The lawsuit

According to Landry's third amended petition, DuBois allowed his driveway to deteriorate. "It is cracked and has moved. These cracks are presently allowing a two-inch height variance in parts of the driveway."

While taking the garbage to the street, Landry tripped on the concrete crack. She fell forward on her face, sustaining bruises both above and below the eye and on her chin, and bruised her leg, the suit said.

Landry returned to the house with a bloody knee. The suit said DuBois' wife treated her knee wounds with peroxide.

Bandaged and ready to go, Landry then left for her afternoon job, the suit said, adding that Landry's knee required periodic attention throughout the day.

"Landry continued to attempt to work at her various places of employment because she needed the wages," the suit said. "It became extremely difficult. The pain caused by the injuries of June 8, 2005, increased."

Landry went to Christus St. Elizabeth Minor Care Center on the evening of June 23, 2005, where she was treated. X-rays of the upper part of her body revealed badly bruised ribs. An MRT also showed a tear in Landry's knee tendons. She underwent surgery at the Beaumont Bone and Joint Clinic on Oct. 17, 2005, and was not able to return to work until Jan. 16, 2006, the suit said.

"Landry was an employee of DuBois," the suit said. "DuBois controlled the days she worked, her duties, and supplied the tools she used. Landry was injured in the course and scope of her employment with DuBois. DuBois does not carry workers compensation insurance coverage."

Landry is represented by attorney Charles Gordon Reed.

Dubois is represented by attorney John West of the Pate & Spivey law firm.

Case No. A-176-597

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