Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Alabama

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On June 24, 2007, Florian Hinrichs was riding in the front passenger seat of a 2004 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck owned and operated by his friend Daniel Vinson when they were involved in a motor-vehicle accident. It was undisputed that Hinrichs was wearing his seat belt. A vehicle operated by Kenneth Smith, who was driving under the influence of alcohol, ran a stop sign and collided with the passenger-side door of the Sierra. The Sierra rolled over twice, but landed on its wheels. Hinrichs suffered a spinal cord injury in the accident that left him a quadriplegic. The accident occurred in Geneva County, Alabama. Hinrichs alleged that his injuries were caused by the defective design of the roof of the Sierra that allowed the roof over the passenger compartment to collapse during the rollover and by the defective design of the seat belt in the Sierra, which failed to restrain him. At the time of the accident, Hinrichs, a German citizen, was a member of the German military; he had been assigned to Fort Rucker for flight training. He and Vinson were in the same training program. Vinson had purchased the Sierra at Hill Buick, Inc., d/b/a O'Reilly Pontiac-Buick-GMC and/or Hill Pontiac-Buick-GMC ("the O'Reilly dealership"), in Pennsylvania in 2003. He drove it to Alabama in 2006 when he was assigned to Fort Rucker. General Motors Corporation, known as Motors Liquidation Company after July 9, 2009 ("GM"), designed the Sierra. GM Canada, whose principal place of business was in Ontario, Canada, manufactured certain parts of the Sierra, assembled the vehicle, and sold it to GM in Canada, where title transferred. GM then distributed the Sierra for sale in the United States through a GM dealer. The Sierra ultimately was delivered to the O'Reilly dealership for sale. Hinrichs, appealed the trial court's decision to dismiss General Motors of Canada, Ltd. ("GM Canada"), from the case. Finding that the trial court correctly concluded that it had neither general nor specific jurisdiction over GM Canada, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hinrichs v. General Motors of Canada, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Consolidated appeals arose from the death of four-year-old Nevaeh Johnson in a fire that destroyed her family's mobile home in May 2011. Following Nevaeh's death, Nevaeh's mother, Latosha Hosford; Latosha's husband, Chad Barley ("Barley"); and Nevaeh's grandmother, Rhonda Hosford ("Hosford"), sued multiple parties, of note, BRK Brands, Inc. ("BRK"), the manufacturer of two smoke alarms in the mobile home at the time of the fire. The plaintiffs alleged that BRK was responsible for Nevaeh's death inasmuch as a BRK-manufactured ionization smoke alarm allegedly did not respond to smoke caused by the fire and sound an alarm in time to allow Nevaeh to escape. In appeal no. 1140899, Latosha appealed the judgment as a matter of law entered on her failure-to-warn, negligence, and wantonness claims, as well as a judgment entered on the jury's verdict following the trial of her products-liability claim brought under the Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine ("AEMLD"). In appeal no. 1140901, Latosha and Hosford, as co-administratrixes of Nevaeh's estate, appealed the judgment as a matter of law entered on their breach-of-warranty claim seeking compensatory damages on behalf of Nevaeh for pain and mental anguish she allegedly suffered before her death. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that with respect to Latosha's AEMLD claim, she did not submit evidence identifying a safer, practical, alternative design that BRK could have used for the ionization smoke alarms purchased by Barley for use in the mobile home; accordingly, BRK was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law on that claim. Inasmuch as Latosha and Hosford conceded that the Supreme Court need not consider any of the other judgments entered by the trial court if the judgment entered on the AEMLD claim was affirmed, the Court affirmed those other judgments. View "Hosford v. BRK Brands, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Florian Hinrichs was riding in the front passenger seat of a 2004 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck that was owned and operated by his friend Daniel Vinson when they were involved in a motor-vehicle accident. Kenneth Smith was driving under the influence of alcohol and ran a stop sign, colliding with the passenger-side door of the Sierra. The Sierra rolled over twice, but landed on its wheels. Hinrichs suffered a spinal cord injury in the accident that left him a quadriplegic. The accident occurred in Geneva County. Hinrichs alleged that his injuries were caused by the defective design of the roof of the Sierra that allowed the roof over the passenger compartment to collapse during the rollover and by the defective design of the seat belt in the Sierra, which failed to restrain him. At the time of the accident, Hinrichs, a German citizen, was a member of the German military; he had been assigned to Fort Rucker for flight training. He and Vinson were in the same training program. Vinson had purchased the Sierra at Hill Buick, Inc., d/b/a O'Reilly Pontiac-Buick-GMC and/or Hill Pontiac-Buick-GMC in Pennsylvania in 2003. He drove it to Alabama in 2006 when he was assigned to Fort Rucker. General Motors Corporation, known as Motors Liquidation Company after July 9, 2009 ("GM"), designed the Sierra. GM Canada, whose principal place of business was in Ontario, Canada, manufactured certain parts of the Sierra, assembled the vehicle, and sold it to GM in Canada, where title transferred. GM then distributed the Sierra for sale in the United States through a GM dealer. The Sierra ultimately was delivered to the O'Reilly dealership for sale. Finding that the trial court properly concluded it lacked general nor specific jurisdiction over GM Canada, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of GM Canada from this case. View "Hinrichs v. General Motors of Canada, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Jim Bishop Chevrolet-Buick-Pontiac-GMC, Inc. ("Jim Bishop"), appealed judgment entered on jury verdicts in favor of Michael and Tina Burden ("Burden"). In 2012, the Burdens sued General Motors, LLC, Jim Bishop, and Lynn Layton Chevrolet, Inc. ("Lynn Layton"), to recover damages for injuries they allegedly sustained as the result of a fire that occurred in a truck they had purchased from an automobile dealership owned and operated by Jim Bishop. When Jim Bishop filed its answer, also generally denying the allegations contained in the complaint and asserting certain affirmative defenses, Jim Bishop further asserted a cross-claim against General Motors alleging it had refused to indemnify Jim Bishop. The Burdens eventually entered into pro tanto settlements with General Motors, which agreed to pay them $20,000, and Lynn Layton, which agreed to pay them $32,000, as to the respective claims asserted by the Burdens against those defendants. The settlement with General Motors resolved the breach-of-warranty claims and the "Magnuson-Moss" claim. The trial court dismissed the Burdens' claims against both General Motors and Lynn Layton pursuant to joint stipulations of dismissal filed by those parties. Jim Bishop moved the trial court for a summary judgment on the Burdens' remaining claims against it, moved at the close of evidence for a judgment as a matter of law, and renewed its JML motion post-verdict. All three were denied, and the jury returned its verdict against Jim Bishop. Based on its review of the facts entered into the trial court record, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in failing to grant Jim Bishop's motion for a JML and in submitting the case to the jury. Therefore, it reversed the judgment entered in favor of the Burdens on the jury's verdicts and rendered a judgment for Jim Bishop. View "Jim Bishop Chevrolet-Buick-Pontiac-GMC, Inc. v. Burden" on Justia Law