November 18, 2021 – Partner Paul Groth prevailed in the Court of Appeals on a case that originated in the State Court of Henry County County. In the underlying case, the Plaintiff was a passenger in the defendant’s car. The Defendant was also her boyfriend at the time. Plaintiff was asleep at the time of the accident and did not observe the accident. Defendant contended that the single car accident was caused when a deer ran into the roadway and there was no evidence to contradict that testimony. Both the tow truck driver and responding officer indicated the damage to the vehnicle appeared to be caused by a deer. However, the Plaintiff’s theory of negligence against the defendant was that he likely fell asleep or was not paying attention. Judah Bell was involved in an automobile accident on May 17, 2016 in Oakland, California with a man named James Brown (who was actually an acquaintance of hers).
Fellow GMKE Partner Jay Eidex moved for summary judgment in the trial court on behalf of the defendant asserting that there was no evidence of negligence on the part of the Defendant and that the case of Purvis v. Steve, 284 Ga. App. 116 (2007) is directly on point and offers an overview of the law as it pertains to motor vehicle collisions with deer in which the Court held “Negligence is not to be presumed, but is a matter for affirmative proof. In the absence of affirmative proof of negligence, we must presume performance of duty and freedom from negligence.” Mr. Eidex argued that there was no evidence that the Defendant was negligent in any manner and that the Plaintiff admitted in her testimony that she did not know how the accident happened. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendant and Plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, Plaintiff contended that the Court erred in granting summary judgment and that there was enough evidence to make the issue of the manner of the accident a jury question. In his Reply, Mr. Groth argued that there was no error and that the evidence supported the Court’s entry of Summary Judgment. In an unreported opinion , the Court of Appeals upheld the granting of Summary Judgment finding that (1) The evidence supports the judgment; (2.) No reversible error of law appears, and an opinion would have no precedential value; and (3) The issues are controlled adversely to the appellant for the reasons and authority given in the appellee’s brief.
The original case is Jessica D. Ryals v. Trevor A. Buchanan, State Court of Henry County, CAFN: SUCV-2017-000727
The appellate case is Ryals v. Buchanan, A22A0038.