Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Smith v. McGhee

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

October 17, 2017

ADRIAN Y. SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD S. MCGHEE; GRIFFIS MOTOR LINES, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This civil action was originally filed on May 13, 2016, in the Circuit Court of Talladega County, Alabama, by Adrian Y. Smith and Darnell Smith. (Doc. 1-1 at 5). The Plaintiff named as Defendants Ronald S. McGhee (“McGhee”) and Griffis Motor Lines, Inc. (“Griffis”). (Doc. 1-1 at 5).[1] The Complaint contains two counts. Count One alleges that McGhee, as an agent of Griffis, “negligently, recklessly and/or wantonly operated a tractor-trailer in such a manner as to cause his vehicle to cross into the Plaintiff's lane of travel and cause a collision with the Plaintiff's vehicle, ” resulting in physical injuries and damages to Adrian Smith. (Count One). Count Two alleges that, as a result of the conduct described in Count One, Darnell Smith also suffered physical injuries and damages. (Count Two).[2] The case was removed to this Court on July 29, 2016. (Doc. 1). On December 13, 2016, this Court dismissed Darnell Smith's claims for failure to prosecute. (Doc. 17).

         This case comes before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (the “Motion”). (Doc. 28). On August 7, 2017, this Court entered a “Notice and Scheduling Order, ” which, pursuant to the requirements of McBride v. Sharpe, 981 F.2d 1234, 1236 (11th Cir. 1993), “[gave the pro se Plaintiff] express, ten-day notice of the summary judgment rules, of [her] right to file affidavits or other materials in opposition to the motion, and of the consequences of default.” (Doc. 30 at 1). That Order specifically informed the Plaintiff that her response to the motion was due no later than August 25, 2017. (Doc. 30 at 2). The Plaintiff filed nothing until October 5, 2017. (Doc. 33). Although it is late, the Court will consider that document to be the Plaintiff's response to the Motion for Summary Judgment. No reply brief has been filed by the Defendants.

         For the reasons stated herein, the Motion will be GRANTED and this case will be DISMISSED with prejudice.

         I. STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (“[S]ummary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The party requesting summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings or filings that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once the moving party has met its burden, Rule 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings in answering the movant. Id. at 324. By its own affidavits - or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file - it must designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.

         The underlying substantive law identifies which facts are material and which are irrelevant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). All reasonable doubts about the facts and all justifiable inferences are resolved in favor of the non-movant. Chapman, 229 F.3d at 1023. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. If the evidence presented by the non-movant to rebut the moving party's evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may still be granted. Id. at 249.

         How the movant may satisfy its initial evidentiary burden depends on whether that party bears the burden of proof on the given legal issues at trial. Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993). If the movant bears the burden of proof on the given issue or issues at trial, then it can only meet its burden on summary judgment by presenting affirmative evidence showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact - that is, facts that would entitle it to a directed verdict if not controverted at trial. Id. (citation omitted). Once the moving party makes such an affirmative showing, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce “significant, probative evidence demonstrating the existence of a triable issue of fact.” Id. (citation omitted) (emphasis added).

         For issues on which the movant does not bear the burden of proof at trial, it can satisfy its initial burden on summary judgment in either of two ways. Id. at 1115-16. First, the movant may simply show that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-movant's case on the particular issue at hand. Id. at 1116. In such an instance, the non-movant must rebut by either (1) showing that the record in fact contains supporting evidence sufficient to withstand a directed verdict motion, or (2) proffering evidence sufficient to withstand a directed verdict motion at trial based on the alleged evidentiary deficiency. Id. at 1116-17. When responding, the non-movant may no longer rest on mere allegations; instead, it must set forth evidence of specific facts. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 358 (1996). The second method a movant in this position may use to discharge its burden is to provide affirmative evidence demonstrating that the non-moving party will be unable to prove its case at trial. Fitzpatrick, 2 F.3d at 1116. When this occurs, the non-movant must rebut by offering evidence sufficient to withstand a directed verdict at trial on the material fact sought to be negated. Id.[3]

         II. UNDISPUTED AND ADMITTED FACTS

         The following facts, which have been proffered by the Defendants, have not been disputed by the Plaintiff and are therefore deemed to be admitted:[4]

1. On May 17, 2014, Plaintiff Adrian Smith was involved in a motor vehicle accident when the 1996 Ford Mustang that she occupied came in contact with a 2009 International tractor-trailer owned by Defendant Griffis Motor Line Inc. and operated by its employee Ronald S. McGhee while both vehicles were traveling eastbound on Interstate 20 in Talladega County, Alabama. (See Ex. A[5], ¶ 6). The two (2) vehicle accident occurred at approximately 3:45 AM. (See Ex. C[6], No. 1).
2. The Accident was investigated by Alabama State Trooper Barry E. McBurnett. While at the accident scene Trooper McBurnett inquired of the Plaintiff, Adrian Smith, as to whether or not she suffered any injuries and she indicated that she was not injured in the accident. (See Ex. C, No. 2 and 3, and Ex. D Alabama Uniform Traffic Crash Report, DPS Case No. 4647350).
3. Plaintiff Smith indicated to Trooper McBurnett during his investigation that she had swerved the vehicle that she was operating to avoid a large piece of tire debris in the roadway. She also admitted to Trooper McBurnett that she had lost control of her vehicle after swerving to avoid the debris and then traveled partially underneath the tractor-trailer being operated by Defendant McGhee. (See Ex. C, No. 4 and 5).
4. Plaintiff Smith later went to Northeast [Alabama] Regional Medical Center in Anniston, Alabama arriving at approximately 5:07 AM []. While at the emergency room she told a physician at the hospital at 5:39 AM that her vehicle was moving at an unknown speed and that the vehicle was attempting to miss a tire in the road and hit an 18-wheeler causing her vehicle to run underneath the 18-wheeler. (See Ex. C, No. 7, 8, 9 and Ex. A attached to the Request for Admissions[7]).
5. After being [later] transported to Brookwood Medical Center[, ] Plaintiff Smith later informed her physicians [there] that she was driving on the freeway at around 4:00 AM and that there was a semi-truck in the left lane. [She stated that the] semi-truck's back-end was even with the front of her car. She further indicated that the tractor-trailer ran over a tire and that she swerved to avoid the tire and ended up wedged under the back end of the semi-truck. (See Ex. C, No. 10, 11 and Ex. B attached to the Request for Admissions[8]).
6. Plaintiff Smith has also offered no facts indicating that Defendant McGhee was guilty of any wanton misconduct in causing or contributing to cause the subject accident. (See Ex. C, No. 6).

(Doc. 28 at 6-7, ¶¶1-6).

         Because the Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and because all of the aforementioned facts are supported, for the most part, on the lack of a response to Request for Admissions, the Court has also examined the Requests for Admissions which, in pertinent part, ask her to admit:

1. That you were involved in a two-vehicle accident occurring on May 17, 2014 at approximately 3:45 a.m. with a vehicle being operated by Ronald S. McGhee, Sr.
2. That the accident was investigated by Alabama State Trooper Barry E. McBurnett.
3. That Trooper McBurnett inquired as to whether or not you were injured and your response to the trooper was that you were not injured in the accident.
4. That you advised Trooper McBurnett that you swerved the vehicle you were operating in order to avoid [sic] and struck a large piece of tire debris in the road.
5. That you advised Trooper McBurnett that you lost control of your vehicle after swerving to avoid the debris and traveled partially underneath the tractor trailer being operated by Ronald S. McGhee, Sr.
6. That you know of no facts to indicate that Ronald S. McGhee, Sr. was guilty of any wanton misconduct in causing or contributing to cause the accident.
7. That you were seen at the Northeast [Alabama] Regional Medical Center in Anniston, Alabama at approximately 5:07 a.m. on May 17, 2014.
8. That you told the emergency room physician at the Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center on May 17, 2017 at 5:39 a.m. that your vehicle was moving at an unknown speed, and that “The vehicle was attempting to miss a tire in the road and hit an 18-wheeler causing the vehicle to run under the truck.”
9. That the attached record from Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center dated May 17, 2014 is a true and correct copy of page 5 out of 5 pages of medical records kept by that hospital in the normal and ordinary course of their business.
10. That page 4 of 12 of records from Brookwood Medical Center dated May 17, 2014 at 12:38 a.m. contain the following: “Patient reports accident she was driving on the freeway at 0400 this morning. There was a semi-truck in the lane to the left that's [sic] back end was even with the front of her car. The truck ran over a tire and it shot up toward her car, she swerved to avoid it and ended up wedged under the back end of the semi.”[9]
11. That the record referred to in the last Request for Admission is attached hereto and as Exhibit B and is a copy of a record kept in the normal and ordinary course of Brookwood Medical Center and is admissible into evidence as a medical record.[10]
12. That you have given inconsistent versions as to how the accident made the basis of this suit occurred.
13. That you have not personally paid any medical expenses you claimed to have incurred as a ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.