United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
G. CORNELIUS, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the undersigned is an unopposed motion for partial
summary judgment filed by the defendants, Conway Courier
Service, Inc. d/b/a/ CCS Transportation (“CCS”)
and Delbert Reed (“Reed”) (collectively, the
“defendants”). (Doc. 16). The defendants seek
judgment in their favor on the claims of wantonness asserted
against them by the plaintiff, Regena Edmonds
(“Edmonds”). (Id.). For the reasons
discussed below, the motion is due to be granted.
August 25, 2015, Reed was driving a tractor-trailer for CCS
on Hopewell Road in Bessemer, Alabama when he missed his turn
into a brickyard he had not been to before. (Doc. 16-1 at 5,
7-8). He stopped, set his air brake, turned on his four-way
flashing lights, and checked his mirrors. (Id. at
9-10). He did not see anything behind him and proceeded to
back up. (Id. at 10). Edmonds, who was stopped two
car-lengths behind Reed, honked and unsuccessfully attempted
to reverse her 2001 Honda Civic. (Id. at 14-17). The
rear of the Reed's tractor-trailer collided with the
front bumper of Edmonds' vehicle. (Id. at
commenced an action in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County,
Alabama, Bessemer Division, asserting claims for negligence
and wantonness against Reed and seeking to hold CCS liable
for this conduct under the theory of respondeat
superior. (Doc. 1-1 at 14-17). The defendants timely
removed the action to this district court on the basis of
diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 1).
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate if the movant shows there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and it is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A district
court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to
the non-movant and draw all reasonable inferences in the
non-movant's favor. Fitzpatrick v. City of
Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993). A district
court cannot grant summary judgment merely because a motion
seeking it is unopposed. United States v. One Piece of
Real Prop. Located at 5800 SW 74th Ave., Miami, Fla.,
363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11th Cir. 2004). The court must consider
the merits of the motion, ensuring it is supported by
evidentiary materials. Id.
Alabama law, “wantonness” is “the conscious
doing of some act or omission of some duty while knowing of
the existing conditions and being conscious that,
from doing or omitting to do an act, injury will likely or
probably result.” Ex parte Essary, 992 So.2d
5, 9 (Ala. 2007) (emphasis in original). The undisputed facts
show Reed missed a turn on a road that was not familiar to
him and then backed up his tractor-trailer after taking
precautions to satisfy himself no car was behind him.
Although he was mistaken in his belief no car was behind him,
his conduct does not rise to the level of wantonness.
Accordingly, the defendants' motion for partial summary
judgment is due to be granted as to Edmonds' wantonness
claim against Reed.
Alabama law, an employer may be liable for the intentional
torts of its agent if the employer participated in,
authorized, or ratified the wrongful acts. Jones Exp.,
Inc. v. Jackson, 86 So.3d 298, 304 (Ala. 2010). Proof of
the employer's liability requires proof of the underlying
tortious conduct of its agent. Id. at 304-05.
Because Edmonds' wantonness claim against Reed fails, her
attempt to hold CCS liable for Reed's wantonness under
the theory of respondeat superior must fail, as
well. Accordingly, the defendants' motion for partial
summary judgment is due to be granted as to Edmonds'
wantonness claim against CCS on the ground of respondeat
foregoing reasons, the defendants' motion for partial
summary judgment (Doc. 16) is GRANTED