from Madison Circuit Court (CV-15-901544)
Hurst appeals from a summary judgment in favor of the estate
of Brenda M. Ray on Hurst's negligence claim. We
reverse and remand.
and Procedural History
and Ray had been friends and neighbors for approximately 20
years before the incident that is the basis of the underlying
action. Hurst and Ray would shop together once or twice a
month, sharing rides over the years in order to reduce the
expenses of gasoline and wear and tear on their respective
vehicles. They would alternate as to whose vehicle they would
take on each shopping trip.
August 22, 2013, Ray telephoned Hurst and asked her to
accompany her to a Wal-Mart discount store. Ray was taking
Nona Williams, her elderly aunt, to purchase Williams's
medication and other merchandise that day, in preparation for
Williams's move to Ohio. Hurst stated that Ray told her:
"I really need you if you can go with me to Wal-Mart and
go run some errands." Hurst testified that Williams was
"very old" and that she walked "slowly."
According to Hurst, although Williams walked "slowly,
" she was able to walk without assistance. Hurst
additionally stated that Ray suffered from congestive heart
failure and a variety of other illnesses but that Ray also
was able to walk without assistance. Hurst testified that her
purpose in accompanying Ray to the Wal-Mart store was to
"help her with her aunt [by] assisting her in the store
[and] ... by standing with [Williams] [and] making sure
[Williams] got to her correct destination." When asked
specifically what assistance Ray had requested when she asked
Hurst to go to the store with her, Hurst replied: "[S]he
just wanted me to stay with [Williams] while she would go
park the car or come into the store, whatever she
testified that Ray asked Hurst to accompany them to the
Wal-Mart store because "both [Ray] and I had limited
mobility, and [Ray] wanted [Hurst] to come along in case
either of us needed help moving around."
drove her vehicle to the Wal-Mart store, and Williams and
Hurst rode as passengers. When they arrived at the Wal-Mart
store, Ray pulled her vehicle along the curb in front of the
store to allow Williams to get out of the vehicle at the
entrance. After Williams got out of the vehicle, Ray asked
Hurst to stand with Williams on the curb while she parked the
car. Hurst then began to get out of the vehicle, but, before
she had completely exited the vehicle, Ray pulled the vehicle
forward, causing Hurst to fall to the ground. Hurst sustained
injuries when the back tire of the vehicle ran over her leg.
August 21, 2015, Hurst sued Ray's estate ("the
estate"), alleging negligence and seeking to recover
damages for her injuries. The estate answered the complaint,
raising as a defense, among other things, the Alabama Guest
Statute, § 32-1-2, Ala. Code 1975. On May 25, 2016, the
estate moved for a summary judgment, arguing that Hurst's
negligence claim was barred by the Guest Statute. On June 7,
2016, Hurst filed a cross-motion for a summary judgment or,
in the alternative, to deny the estate's motion for a
summary judgment. Following a hearing, the trial court, on
June 20, 2016, entered an order granting the estate's
motion for a summary judgment and denying Hurst's
cross-motion for a summary judgment. Hurst appeals.
standard by which this Court reviews a summary judgment is
"This Court reviews a summary judgment de novo.
Turner v. Westhampton Court, L.L.C., 903 So.2d 82,
87 (Ala. 2004). We seek to determine whether the movant has
made a prima facie showing that there exists no genuine issue
of material fact and has demonstrated that the movant is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Turner,
supra. In reviewing a summary judgment, this Court
reviews the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmovant. Turner, supra. Once the movant
makes a prima facie showing that he is entitled to a summary
judgment, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to produce
'substantial evidence' creating a genuine issue of
material fact. Ala. Code 1975, § 12-21-12; Bass v.
SouthTrust Bank of Baldwin County, 538 So.2d 794, 797-98
(Ala. 1989). 'Substantial evidence' is 'evidence
of such weight and quality that fair-minded persons in the
exercise of impartial judgment can reasonably infer the
existence of the fact sought to be proved.' West v.
Founders Life Assurance Co. of Fla., 547 So.2d 870, 871
Muller v. Seeds, 919 So.2d 1174, 1176-77 (Ala.