United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action arises from injuries plaintiff Joseph Michael Hume
suffered after he entered an enclosure containing high
voltage electrical equipment on the University of Montevallo
campus in 2015. Defendants William Hughes and Kerry Loveless
worked for the University of Montevallo at the time of Mr.
Hume's accident. Mr. Hughes and Mr. Loveless ask the
Court to enter judgment in their favor on Mr. Hume's
negligence and wantonness claims against them. (Doc. 80). For
the reasons explained below, disputed questions of fact
preclude summary judgment.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). To demonstrate that there is a genuine
dispute as to a material fact that precludes summary
judgment, a party opposing a motion for summary judgment must
cite “to particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). When considering a summary judgment
motion, a district court must view the evidence in the record
and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party. Asalde v. First Class Parking
Sys., 898 F.3d 1136, 1138 (11th Cir. 2018). “The
court need consider only the cited materials, but it may
consider other materials in the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
factual record in this case is extensive. The facts relevant
to Mr. Loveless's and Mr. Hughes's motion for summary
judgment are these: at the time of his accident, Mr. Hume was
a sophomore at the University of Montevallo. (Doc. 76-68, p.
12). One summer evening in 2015, he and two friends began
playing frisbee golf on the campus's “makeshift
course.” (Doc. 76-68, pp. 19, 182). While playing, one
of the frisbees fell into an unmarked enclosure connected to
Farmer Hall, the University's Student Center. (Doc.
76-68, pp. 16, 36).
side of the enclosure is a chain-link locked fence; the other
two accessible sides are brick. (Doc. 76-70; see
also Doc. 76-68, pp. 42-43). From where Mr. Hume was
standing, he faced a brick wall; Mr. Hume did not approach
the enclosure from the chain-link side. (Doc. 76-68, pp.
42-43; see also Doc. 76-76 (photograph where Mr.
Hume marks where he climbed onto the wall)). Mr. Hume asked
his friends if they could retrieve the frisbee. (Doc. 76-68,
p. 55). When his friends said that they could not get the
frisbee from their side, Mr. Hume “hopped up on top of
the wall and hopped in[to the enclosure] to recover the
frisbee.” (Doc. 76-68, pp. 55-56). At the time of Mr.
Hume's accident, there were no warning signs on the
enclosure indicating that it was a high-voltage area. (Doc.
57-1, pp. 276, 298; Doc. 78-12, pp. 75-76).
Hume swung into the enclosure, grabbed the frisbee, and moved
to leave the enclosure. (Doc. 76-68, pp. 74, 79; see
Doc. 76-79 (noting where the frisbee was inside the
enclosure)). As he left the enclosure, Mr. Hume contacted a
transformer and suffered a severe shock. (Doc. 26, ¶ 15;
Doc. 76-68, pp. 89-90). Mr. Hume asserts that the enclosure
should have had warning signs to alert people that it
contained dangerous high voltage equipment. (Doc. 26, ¶
16). It is undisputed that years before Mr. Hume's
accident, Mr. Loveless secured a warning sign to the
University of Montevallo has owned and operated the Farmer
Hall transformer since it was installed in the early 1960s.
(Doc. 57-2, pp. 298, 483; Doc. 76-16, p. 93; Doc. 76-1, p.
3). William Hughes is the director of the physical plant for
the University. (Doc. 78-12, pp. 110-11). Mr. Hughes
supervises Kerry Loveless, the University's electrical
supervisor. (Doc. 51-1, p. 182; Doc. 78-19, pp. 33-34). Mr.
Hughes has no background as an electrician and assigned Mr.
Loveless responsibility for electrical maintenance and safety
on campus. (Doc. 78-13, pp. 16, 45-46).
Hughes's responsibilities as “Director of Physical
Plant” are detailed in the University's written
position description for that job. (Doc. 78-17, p. 37). Item
number 4 in the section titled “Essential Job
Duties” states that the plant director:
Implement[s] program for continuous and reliable operation of
facilities, including routine and preventative maintenance
for all campus buildings, (including real property) and
grounds including landscape maintenance, custodial services,
plumbing, painting, carpentry, heating and cooling and
(Doc. 78-17, p. 37). Item 6 states that the plant director
“[o]versees utility services for steam, chill water,
drinking water, sewer, natural gas and electricity.”
(Doc. 78-17, p. 38). And item 8 states that the plant
director “[e]nsures organizational compliance with
applicable codes, rules and regulations.” (Doc. 78-17,
Loveless's responsibilities as
“Supervisor-Electrical Shop” are detailed in the
University's written position description for that job.
(Doc. 78-17, p. 45). The general description details the
broad purpose of the job as follows: “to plan, develop,
organize, direct and evaluate all aspects of the Electrical
Department and provide supervision of department
personnel.” (Doc. 78-17, p. 45). Mr. Loveless was,
among other things, required to “[s]upervise and
perform work on high and low voltage electrical
systems”; “[p]articipate in the planning, layout
and estimating of new or modified electrical systems and
upgrades”; “[p]rovide technical guidance on jobs
performed”; and “[e]nsure training of staff is
consistent with the skill levels and requirements within the
department.” (Doc. 78-17, pp. 45-46). Mr. Loveless had
the ultimate responsibility for the electrical equipment and
the enclosure involved in Mr. Hume's accident. (Doc.
78-20, p. 87).
2002, Mills-Conoly, an engineering firm that the university
retained to survey the campus's existing electric system
and prepare recommendations for corrective action, (Doc.
55-6, p. 3; Doc. 51-1, pp. 32-33), advised the university
that various transformer configurations on ...