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CIVIL PROCEDURE / AEMLD / NEGLIGENCE - GARRIE V. SUMMIT TREESTANDS, LLC

In Garrie v. Summit Treestands, LLC, [Ms. 2080164, April 30, 2010] __ So.3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2010) (on application for rehearing), the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals reviewed several aspects of product liability law in the context of a plaintiff who fell out of a tree stand that he alleged was defective. First, the Court held that negligence and wantonness claims were not subsumed by the AEMLD under Vesta Fire Ins. Corp. v. Milam & Co. Construction, 901 So.2d 84 (Ala. 2004). The Court then affirmed the summary judgment entered by the trial court as to plaintiff's AEMLD claims as plaintiff failed to present any evidence about a safer, practical, alternative design for the tree stand. Next, the Court examined whether the plaintiff, who was not wearing a safety harness at the time of the fall, was contributorily negligent as a matter of law. The Court held that plaintiff's testimony supported that he subjectively believed that the belt was not to be used while climbing or descending a tree, and the Court held that the danger involved in plaintiff's fall was not a "self-evident danger of which he should have been aware" such as to support summary judgment. Defendant argued that plaintiff failed to present substantial evidence to support his negligence claim, but defendant failed to move for summary judgment on that ground and, thus, plaintiff had no burden to offer evidence supporting his negligence claim. Finally, the Court affirmed summary judgment as to plaintiff's wantonness claim, as plaintiff presented no evidence supporting a claim of wantonness. The Court granted plaintiff's application for rehearing, reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded the case to the Circuit Court of Pickens County.

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