Cannon v. Modular Transportation Company

Filing 33

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Defendants motion for partial summary judgment DENIED as MOOT for reasons noted within; the case is SET for pretrial conference at 10:30 a.m, March 19, 2014. Signed by Judge William M Acker, Jr on 3/3/14. (Attachments: # 1 Pretrial Instructions)(SAC )

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FILED 2014 Mar-03 PM 04:32 U.S. DISTRICT COURT N.D. OF ALABAMA IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA SOUTHERN DIVISION CONSUELLA GRIFFIN, as mother and next friend of Aaliyah Moreland, a minor and natural child of Andrew Moreland, Jr., deceased, Plaintiff, MODULAR TRANSPORTATION COMPANY and ROBERT D. PHINIZEE, Defendants. } } } } } } } } } } } } } } Case No. 2:12-CV-2378-WMA MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Simona Cannon instituted the present wrongful death action as administrator of the estate of Andrew Moreland, Jr., deceased, in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Case No. CV 2012-901918. After the case was removed to this court, Consuella Griffin replaced Simona Cannon as plaintiff and as the administrator of Moreland’s estate. Moreland died in a collision between his car and a tractor trailer driven by defendant, Robert D. Phinizee (“Phinizee”) and owned by his employer, Transportation Company (“Modular”). defendant, Modular The complaint charges that decedent was killed by the negligence, recklessness, and wantonness of defendants. Defendants move for partial summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim of wantonness. Both plaintiff and defendants miss the point and therefore have wasted a lot of their time and the court’s time. They apparently do not understand the liability theory for pursuing a wrongful death claim in Alabama. Under Alabama’s unique Homicide Act, there is no reason for an adjudication, whether under Rule 56, or otherwise, as to whether Phinizee’s conduct, which admittedly was in the line and scope of his employment for Modular, was an act of negligence, or an act of recklessness, or an act of wantonness, or can properly be characterized as within all three of these categories. In a wrongful death case in Alabama, such an inquiry is unnecessary. It makes no difference, because the only damages that can be recovered are punitive and are to be assessed against a defendant on the basis of what sum of money is necessary to accomplish the purposes of punishment and deterrence. Compensatory damages are not recoverable. Baroco v. Araserv, Inc., 621 F.2d 189 (5th Cir. 1980). The only inquiry, then, is into the degree of culpability, or the egregiousness of the conduct complained of, and not what category the conduct might fall into if the general law of torts were being applied. Defendants’ motion for partial summary judgment makes no sense and is therefore DENIED as MOOT. Discovery having been completed and the deadline for filing dispositive motions having passed, the case is hereby SET for pretrial conference at 10:30 a.m, March 19, 2014, in accordance with the attached pretrial instructions unless before that time the parties jointly move for mediation in accordance with the court’s ADR rules. DONE this 3rd day of March, 2014. _____________________________ WILLIAM M. ACKER, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

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