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Gerri Plain Obtains Summary Judgment

Plaintiff was driving a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on Highway 43 in Colbert County when he rear-ended Defendant’s vehicle.  Defendant had stopped at a yellow traffic signal.  Plaintiff was airlifted from the scene and sustained significant injuries.  He did not have any recollection of the accident itself.   Plaintiff claimed the defendant was negligent and wanton.

The defendant testified that as he approached the traffic signal, it turned yellow.  He applied his brakes as you would for any other stop and came to a complete stop behind the white stop line.  He was stopped for 1-2 seconds before the plaintiff impacted his vehicle from the rear.  His vehicle was pushed into the intersection by the impact.

In moving for summary judgment, Defendant denied that he was negligent or wanton.  He did not breach any duty and was, at all times, acting reasonable by bringing his vehicle to a complete stop at the yellow light.  Even if the defendant was negligent, the plaintiff contributed to the accident by following too closely, failing to keep his motorcycle under control, and failing to keep a proper lookout.  Additionally, Defendant argued there was no evidence of wantonness.

In response to Defendant’s summary judgment, testimony by affidavits were provided from two friends of the plaintiff who were riding with him at the time of the accident.  They both alleged that the defendant came to a sudden stop at the yellow traffic light, to the point that his tires screeched.  The plaintiff could not avoid the impact because of the sudden stop.  The witnesses also disputed the defendant’s account of how long he was at a stop and where his vehicle was stopped prior to impact.  Plaintiff also argued that the defendant was wanton because he admitted to receiving a text message or notification while he was driving.  Defendant testified in his deposition that he received a notification but did not look at his phone while he was driving.

Plaintiff argued that the testimony created genuine issues of fact to be determined by a jury.  After hearing oral arguments from both parties, Judge Brown ruled in the defendant’s favor, granting summary judgment and judgment as a matter of law in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiff’s claims were dismissed, with prejudice.

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