United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
JOHNNIE L. PYLANT, JR., Plaintiff,
LORENZO C. PETERSON, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE0
Johnnie L. Pylant, Jr. (“Pylant”) initiated this
action against Defendants Lorenzo C. Peterson
(“Peterson”), Silverstone Corporation
(“Silverstone”), Everlast US, Inc.
(“Everlast”) and AllState Insurance Company
“Defendants”) alleging state law claims for (1)
negligence, (2) wantonness, (3) negligent and wanton
entrustment, (4) negligent hiring, training, and supervision,
and (5) uninsured motorist arising out of a motor vehicle
collision. (Doc. 1). Defendants Peterson, Silverstone, and
Everlast (collectively “Moving Defendants”) have
moved for summary judgment as to Pylant's claims for
wantonness (count 2), negligent and wanton entrustment (count
3), negligent hiring, training, and supervision (count 4),
and as to all claims against Defendant Silverstone. (Docs.
23). The motion is fully briefed and ripe for review.
(See docs. 23, 25, 26, & 27). For the reasons stated
below, the motion for partial summary judgment, (doc. 23), is
Standard of Review
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is proper if the pleadings, the discovery, and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits “show
that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” “Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary
judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion,
against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to
establish the existence of an element essential to that
party's case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 447 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The moving party
bears the initial burden of proving the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact. Id. at 323. The burden then
shifts to the nonmoving party, who is required to “go
beyond the pleadings” to establish there is a
“genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 324.
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). A dispute
about a material fact is genuine “if the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Court must construe the evidence and all reasonable
inferences arising from it in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398
U.S. 144, 157, (1970); see also Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 255 (all justifiable inferences must be drawn in the
non-moving party's favor). Any factual disputes will be
resolved in Plaintiff's favor when sufficient competent
evidence supports Plaintiff's version of the disputed
facts. See Pace v. Capobianco, 283 F.3d 1275,
1276-78 (11th Cir. 2002) (a Court is not required to resolve
disputes in the non-moving party's favor when that
party's version of the events is supported by
insufficient evidence). However, “mere conclusions and
unsupported factual allegations are legally insufficient to
defeat a summary judgment motion.” Ellis v.
England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1326 (11th Cir. 2005) (per
curiam) (citing Bald Mtn. Park, Ltd. V. Oliver, 836
F.2d 1560, 1563 (11th Cir. 1989)). Moreover, “[a] mere
‘scintilla' of evidence supporting the opposing
party's position will not suffice; there must be enough
of a showing that the jury could reasonably find for that
party.” Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577
(11th Cir. 1990) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).
Summary Judgment Facts
A. The Collision
morning of February 24, 2014, Peterson left in Norcross,
Georgia at 7:00 AM driving a small Isuzu box truck. (Doc.
23-2 at 9, 11, 13 (18:8:20; 26:19-21; 35:4-7)). On that day,
he was traveling to Fairfield, Alabama to deliver ten caskets
to Serenity Funeral Home. (Id. at 10 (22:12-19)).
to reaching his destination, Peterson entered a stretch of
bumper-to-bumper traffic just past the location of the
I-20/59 junction where I-20 from Atlanta meets I-59. (Doc.
23-2 at 13-14 (36:15-37:21)). He was traveling in the lane
directly next to the far-left lane. (Id. at 14
(39:13-40:2)). At some point after entering the heavy
traffic, when traffic stopped, he was right behind
Pylant's vehicle. (Id. (38:15-39:3)). Once
traffic started moving again, Peterson deliberately stayed
still to leave a gap between his truck and Pylant's
vehicle so that he could get over into the far-left lane to
take the 22nd Street exit on the left. (Id. at 14-15
(39:4-12; 4:5-15)). Once he began moving again, he looked
into his driver's side mirror for a few seconds to check
for traffic. (Id. at 15-16 (44:16-23; 47:14-17)).
Just before making the decision to change lanes, Peterson
looked forward and noticed that traffic had stopped in front
of him. (Id. at 16 (46:13-20)). At this point,
Peterson was about ten yards from Pylant's vehicle and
traveling at a speed of fifteen to twenty miles per hour.
(Id. (46:5-7; 47:18-21)). Peterson explained it as
“coasting, ” with his foot on the brake.
(Id. at 16 (46: 8-19). Because traffic had stopped,
Peterson did not have enough room to change lanes. (Doc. 23-2
at 16 (48:2-11)). Peterson's foot hit the brakes, but it
was too late. (Id. at 15 (44:5-15)). The front of
Peterson's truck hit the rear end of Pylant's
vehicle. (Id.at 17 (49:4-6)). Prior to striking
Pylant's vehicle, Peterson was looking to the left and
not at the traffic ahead of him. (Id.).
Everlast, Silverstone, and the Isuzu Box Truck
time of the collision, Peterson was working in his capacity
as a sales representative for Everlast. (Doc. 23-2 at 7, 9
(11:22-21:1; 19:4-6)). Everlast is a wholesale distributor of
caskets headquartered in Norcross, Georgia. (Id. at
30, ¶ 2). Everlast owns a small Isuzu box truck that
Peterson was driving at the time of the collision.
(Id. at 9, 11 (18:8-19, 25:10-15)). The truck has
only two axels and does not require any specific
qualifications to drive. (Id. at 21 (66:1-3,
66:22-67:1)). Prior to driving the box truck, Peterson was
not provided with any type of driver manual or specialized
training. (Id. at 11 (25:16-23, 26:1-2)). Peterson
did not know the weight of the truck or how long it would
take for the truck to stop. (Id. at 16 (48:18-23,
years prior to this collision and before Everlast was
established, Everlast's two founders were co-owners of
Silverstone with a third individual. (Doc. 23-2 at 30, ¶
3). Like Everlast, Silverstone was a wholesale distributor of
caskets organized under Georgia law. (Id.). Because
of a disagreement between Silverstone's three co-owners,
Everlast's founders left and formed Everlast to operate
the same line of business and essentially serve as a
replacement company for Silverstone. (Id.).
no longer exists. (Doc. 23-2 at 31, ¶ 4). Silverstone
was last registered under Georgia law in 2012, and the
company was administratively dissolved on December 31, 2015.
(Id. at 31, ¶ 4 & 37).
time of the automobile collision, the Isuzu box truck that
Peterson was driving was owned by Everlast and insured by
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, with ...