No Duty of Care Where Injury Not Foreseeable

Dolgencorp, LLC v. Gilliam, [Ms. SC-2023-0008, Oct. 27, 2023] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2023). The Court (Sellers, J; Parker, C.J., and Mitchell, J., concur in part and concur in result; Shaw, Wise, Mendheim, and Cook, JJ., concur in the result; Stewart, J., dissents) reverses a judgment entered on a personal injury jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff in the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court, and renders a judgment for Defendant Dolgencorp.

Plaintiff claimed that Dolgencorp negligently failed to erect bollard-type barriers outside its store that would have prevented a car from crashing through the storefront and injuring her. Dolgencorp argued, among other things, that it did not have a duty to erect such barriers following Albert v. Hsu, 602 So. 2d 895 (Ala. 1992) (holding, in relevant part, that a driver crashing into a business's building is not foreseeable and a business owner does not have a duty to protect indoor patrons from such a crash).

The trial court denied Dolgencorp's motion for summary judgment and its in-trial JML motions on the issue. The jury returned a verdict against Dolgencorp and assessed $381,000 in damages.

On appeal, the Court applies Albert and finds Dolgencorp had no duty to erect protective barriers outside the store's entrance. Ms. *7. The Court determines that under the evidence presented, Plaintiff’s injury was not foreseeable and was too remote to give rise to a duty. Ms. *8.

Parker, C.J. and Mitchell, J. offer concurring opinions expressing reservations about broadly endorsing the Albert opinion as a categorical rule. Ms. **10, 12.

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