One day, a man walks down a public street minding his own business. As he passes a store that sells flour, a barrel of flour falls from a second-story loft and hits him in the head, causing significant damage. The plaintiff is unable to prove that the store owner breached his duty of care. Regardless, the court holds the store owner liable for negligence based on the legal theory of res ipsa loquitur. This theory presumes negligence because it infers negligence based on the nature of events. This is the case of Byrne v. Boadle from 1863, wherein an English Court inferred negligence and held the store owner responsible. Alabama courts also recognize the tort theory of res ipsa loquitur.
Note that res ipsa loquitur makes a rebuttable presumption of guilt, not a definitive determination of guilt. If a plaintiff successfully raises a res ipsa loquitur charge, the burden … Read More
Imagine this shocking scenario: A dad is driving to pick up his kids from their friends’ house after school. On his way to the house, a drunk driver plows into the dad’s car, severely injuring the dad. An ambulance rushes to the scene and takes the dad to the hospital. His condition is critical; the man is hemorrhaging and has multiple fractures and he has fallen into a coma. His wife later comes to the hospital to find her husband in bad shape. Three days later, the dad dies. After a grieving period, the mom decides to sue the driver of the other car for wrongful death.
Alabama law defines wrongful death as the “wrongful act, omission, or negligence causing death” of another. The deceased’s estate, through his or her personal representative, can bring the suit.
The law also provides that a wrongful death claim may be brought … Read More
Besides the social stigma of filing for bankruptcy, bankrupt debtors, both those who are enduring and have completed the bankruptcy process, will need to contend with potential employment discrimination. Current and potential employers may have concerns about the debtor’s character, thereby hurting a debtor’s chances of continuing or securing employment.
In response to post-bankruptcy employment discrimination, Congress enacted section 525 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Specifically, the Code in section 525(a) provides that “a governmental unit may not…deny employment to, terminate the employment of, or discriminate with respect to employment against, a person that is or has been a debtor under this title or a bankrupt or a debtor under the Bankruptcy Act.” In section 525(b) the Code provides that “[n]o private employer may terminate the employment of, or discriminate with respect to employment against, an individual who is or has been a debtor under this … Read More
In the 2003 case of Pittman v United Tolls, plaintiff Gayle Pittman was involved in an accident on a bridge operated and maintained by defendant United Tolls. In that case, Pittman skidded on the icy bridge, which caused an accident that injured her. Pittman claimed that United Tolls was negligent in not maintaining a safe driving environment on the bridge when it did not remove the ice.
United Tolls countered that Pittman assumed the risk, meaning that she knows of the risk on driving in icy conditions and disregarded that risk. Therefore, United Tolls argued, it cannot be held responsible for Pittman’s actions.
On appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court (ASC), the ASC outlined a two-prong test to determine whether a defendant can succeed with the defense of assumption of the risk:
- That the plaintiff had knowledge of, and an appreciation of, the danger the plaintiff faced; and That
… Read More
Troy Goode, a healthy, 30-year old engineer with a wife and infant son, was, among many other things, a lifelong Widespread Panic fan. Like many who grew up listening to the band’s shows, and even those who grew up around a friend who constantly played the ‘Spread (perhaps to their annoyance), attending a Panic concert was a special event for Troy. And as he got older, as many of us find, the shows we are able to catch get fewer and farther between as life begins to turn that young man’s freedom to travel into a fond, distant memory.
Unfortunately, Troy and his wife had to leave the show early due to Troy’s apparent intoxication. Troy began acting erratically, exiting the vehicle at one point, and soon drew the attention of the Southaven, MS police. Chief Tom Long of Southaven PD says the authorities were told that Troy was experiencing … Read More
The stepfather of a teenager killed in a fatal car crash last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Brandon Scott Smith, the driver of the 2004 Nissan Altima that overturned and struck a parked vehicle on Jackson Trace Toad at 1:00 a.m. on September 30, 2012.
Patricia Gayle Todd, 19, was thrown from the car and later died at the scene. An investigation by Alabama State troopers into skid marks at the scene revealed that Smith was traveling at least 70 miles per hour on the road, which has a posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour. Smith, 25, later admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol and smoking marijuana according to the accident report. He was arrested and later released from Tuscaloosa County Jail.
Brandon Scott Smith, of Northport, is facing criminal charges that are still pending, including: manslaughter, two charges of second degree assault, … Read More
Personal injury suits against doctors are generally referred to as medical malpractice lawsuits. Such lawsuits are governed by the Alabama Medical Liability Act (AMLA), which generally requires the filer of the lawsuit to retain a medical expert to testify that the doctor against whom they wish to bring the lawsuit has violated the appropriate standard of care. Without providing this expert testimony, a lawsuit against a doctor is generally dismissed.
The AMLA provides an exception to this requirement if the wrong done by the doctor or medical institution is so obvious that one does not have to be a doctor to recognize that it is inappropriate. In other words, the “common layman” could understand, based on common experience, that the doctor or medical institution made an error. It is important to remember that this exception is a narrow one; however, in two recent cases, the Alabama Supreme Court identified situations … Read More