Declaratory Judgment – Summary Judgment Procedure

James v. Assurance America Insurance Company, [Ms. 1200462, Aug. 20, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Wise, J.; Bolin, Sellers, and Stewart, JJ., concur; Parker, C.J., concurs in the result) reverses the Montgomery Circuit Court’s entry of a summary judgment in favor of Assurance America Insurance Company (Assurance) on its complaint for a declaratory judgment that it had no duty to defend or indemnify due to policy provisions excluding coverage of an accident caused by an unlicensed driver.

In reversing, the Court reiterates

“While Rule 56, Ala. R. Civ. P., permits evidence in the form of depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits to be submitted in support of, or in opposition to, a summary judgment motion, that evidence must, nevertheless, conform to the requirements of Rule 56(e) and be admissible at trial. Welch v. Houston County Hosp. Bd., 502 So. 2d 340 (Ala. 1987).” Dunaway v. King, 510 So. 2d 543, 545 (Ala. 1987).

Finally, “[t]he contents of an affidavit filed in support of, or in opposition to, a motion for summary judgment must be asserted upon personal knowledge of the affiant, must set forth facts that would be admissible in evidence, and must show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters asserted. These requirements are mandatory. Arrington v. Working Woman’s Home, 368 So. 2d 851, 854 (Ala. 1979); Oliver v. Brock, 342 So. 2d 1, 4 (Ala. 1976).”

Ms. *15, quoting Crawford v. Hall, 531 So. 2d 874, 875 (Ala. 1988). The Court holds that “Assurance did not produce substantial admissible evidence to establish that Mejia did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident and therefore did not shift the burden of proof to James. Accordingly, the trial court erred in granting Assurance’s motion for a summary judgment.” Ms. **21-22.

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