United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
CHAVONNE S. GIBSON PLAINTIFF
VENTURE EXPRESS, INC. and GLENN S. DRUMMOND DEFENDANTS
A. SANDERS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter arises on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
. After considering the matter, the court finds as
and Procedural History
October 17, 2012, Chavonne Gibson was travelling in the
right, east-bound lane of U.S. Highway 82. Up ahead, she saw
a school bus in front of a Venture Express truck. The driver
of the truck, Glenn Drummond, testified during deposition
that he was stopped behind the school bus with his foot on
the brake and his emergency lights flashing. However, Gibson
testified that she never lost sight of the truck and that she
saw neither brake lights nor emergency flashers. Therefore,
she perceived that the truck was moving. According to Gibson,
this misperception caused her to approach the truck at a high
rate of speed and ultimately to collide with the truck.
Defendants argue that either 1) the truck was moving and
Gibson ran into the back of a moving vehicle, or 2) the truck
was stopped, with its brake lights and flashers on, and
Gibson collided with a stopped vehicle. Although she has
difficulty judging distances and speed, Gibson admits that
she had sufficient distance to stop from the first time she
saw the truck had she thought she needed to do so. However,
she contends Drummond's failure to activate signals
sufficient to warn approaching motorists that he was stopped,
or Defendants' failure to maintain the warning signals in
working order, contributed to the accident.
judgment is warranted when the evidence reveals no genuine
dispute regarding any material fact, and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
The Rule “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after
adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party
who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
moving party “bears the initial responsibility of
informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Id. at 323. The nonmoving party must
then “go beyond the pleadings” and
“designate ‘specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial.'” Id. at 324
(citations omitted). In reviewing the evidence, factual
controversies are to be resolved in favor of the non-movant,
“but only when . . . both parties have submitted
evidence of contradictory facts.” Little v. Liquid
Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc).
When such contradictory facts exist, the Court may “not
make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.”
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S.
133, 150, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000). Conclusory
allegations, speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and
legalistic arguments are not an adequate substitute for
specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. TIG
Ins. Co. v. Sedgewick James of Wash., 276 F.3d 754, 759
(5th Cir. 2002); SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097
(5th Cir. 1997); Little, 37 F.3d at 1075.
[T]he driver of a vehicle following along behind another, and
not attempting to pass, has a duty encompassing four
interrelated functions: he must have his vehicle under proper
control, keep a proper look-out ahead, and commensurate
therewith drive at a speed and sufficient distance behind the
preceding vehicle so that should the preceding vehicle stop
suddenly, he can nevertheless stop his vehicle without
colliding with the forward vehicle.
White v. Miller, 513 So.2d 600, 601 (Miss. 1987).
White, the Mississippi Supreme Court found Miller
liable for rear-ending White because:
Miller did not know her approximate speed, she was driving
approximately one car length behind the White vehicle when
she saw the truck turn off in front of White into the Dixie
Gas station, and saw the White vehicle brake lights come
on. There is no way any rational jury could reach any
conclusion but that Miller in following the White vehicle
failed in either one or more of her duties to keep a proper
lookout ahead, keep her car under proper control, and
commensurate therewith drive at a speed and sufficient
distance behind ...