AEMLD Claims & Wantonness - Jacklyn McMahon, Et al. v. Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, Et Al.
In Jacklyn McMahon, et al. v. Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, et al., [Ms. 1100679, March 2, 2012] __ So. 3d __(Ala. 2012), Ms. McMahon was injured in July 2007 when a 2007 Yamaha Rhino 660 rolled over, resulting in injuries to her arms and legs. She filed suit against various Yamaha defendants. The case proceeded to trial in Montgomery County. At the close of evidence, the trial court granted Defendants' motion for JML as to Plaintiffs' negligence and wantonness claims, but submitted Plaintiffs' AEMLD claim to the jury. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants. Plaintiffs timely appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's granting JML as to the negligence claims. The Court reasoned that, while an AEMLD claim does not subsume a common-law negligence claim, the jury's verdict in favor of the defendants on Plaintiffs' AEMLD claim "establishes that their negligence claim would have been unsuccessful as well." However, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's granting JML as to the wantonness claims. The Court noted that contributory negligence, one of the defendants' primary defenses, is not a bar to a wantonness claim. In addition, the Court concluded that there was substantial evidence in the form of internal Yamaha emails and expert testimony from which a jury could have concluded that the defendants had specific knowledge of rollover-related injury risks and that the defendants failed to address those risks in a timely manner.