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.

Donaldson v. Country Mutual Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Alabama

June 14, 2019

Daniel Kyle DONALDSON
v.
COUNTRY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY.

Page 1173

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1174

          Appeal from Madison Circuit Court (CV-15-902120)

         SELLERS, Justice.

         Daniel Kyle Donaldson appeals from a summary judgment in favor of Country Mutual Insurance Company ("Country Mutual"). We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         The underlying action stems from a November 2015 accident in which Donaldson, while working in a construction zone on the west side of Bailey Cove Road in Madison County, was struck by a GMC Yukon sport-utility vehicle, owned and driven by Gregory Ryan Johnston. As a result of the collision, Donaldson suffered severe injuries to one of his legs that ultimately required the amputation of the leg.

         Donaldson sued Johnston and Country Mutual, asserting claims of negligence and wantonness against Johnston and asserting that Country Mutual was vicariously liable for Johnston's conduct under theories of agency and respondeat superior. At the time of the underlying accident, Johnston was working as an insurance agent under an "agent's agreement" with Country Mutual and a number of other companies that are collectively referred to in that agreement as "Country Insurance and Financial Services."[1] Pursuant to that agreement, Johnston solicited applications for the insurance products of Country Mutual and the other named companies, bound coverage and delivered insurance policies as approved by those companies, transmitted premiums received from policyholders to those companies, and provided customer service to policyholders. The agent's agreement expressly identified Johnston as an independent contractor and stated that "nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to create the relationship of employer and employee" between the parties.

         Country Mutual filed a motion for a summary judgment, arguing that Johnston was not its agent or employee but, instead, was an independent contractor. Country Mutual further argued that, even assuming Johnston was its employee, his actions in relation to the accident were outside the line and scope of his alleged employment. In opposition, Donaldson argued that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Johnston was an employee of Country Mutual and whether he was acting

Page 1175

within the line and scope of that employment at the time the accident occurred. The Madison Circuit Court ("the trial court") granted Country Mutual's motion for a summary judgment. The case proceeded to trial on the remaining claims against Johnston; the jury found in favor of Donaldson on both the negligence and wantonness claims and awarded him $5,560,000 in compensatory damages. After the trial court entered a judgment on the jury's verdict, Donaldson filed this appeal challenging the summary judgment in favor of Country Mutual.

         Standard of Review

"This Court's review of a summary judgment is de novo. Williams v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.,886 So.2d 72, 74 (Ala. 2003). We apply the same standard of review as the trial court applied. Specifically, we must determine whether the movant has made a prima facie showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(c), Ala. R. Civ. P.; Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Alabama v. Hodurski,899 So.2d 949, 952-53 (Ala. 2004). In making such a determination, we must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Wilson v. Brown, 496 So.2d 756, 758 (Ala. 1986). Once the movant makes a prima facie showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the burden then shifts to the nonmovant to produce `substantial evidence' as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact. Bass v. SouthTrust Bank of Baldwin County,538 So.2d 794, 797-98 (Ala. 1989); Ala. Code 1975, ยง 12-21-12. `[S]ubstantial evidence is evidence ...

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.