Summary Judgment in Favor of the City of Guntersville

Paul Seckel June 8, 2017

The Alabama Supreme Court recently released an opinion in the case of Ex parte City of Guntersville Petition for Writ of Mandamus. This case originated in Marshall County Circuit Court where Margaret Hulgan filed a negligence case against the City of Guntersville to recover for damages for injuries she alleges she incurred at Civitan Park after watching the Fourth of July fireworks show on July 4, 2012. Ms. Hulgan claimed that when returning to the parked vehicle she arrived in, she tripped over a crossbar in the parking area and injured her shoulder.

The City of Guntersville made a motion for summary judgement claiming that it had immunity from her claim and that it did not have actual knowledge that the crossbar presented a condition, use, structure, or activity which involves an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily injury, thus not allowing this claim to fall under one of the exceptions to immunity under Alabama Code §35-15-24. The Marshall County Circuit Court ruled against the City of Guntersville and did not grant their motion for summary judgement. The City of Guntersville appealed the decision on summary judgment and the issue was decided by the Alabama Supreme Court.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of Guntersville’s petition for a writ of mandamus to vacate the order by the circuit court that denied the city’s motion for summary judgment and entered a summary judgement in favor of the city. The court stated in it’s opinion that Ms. Hulgan did not meet her evidentiary burden to prove that the city had actual knowledge that the crossbar presented a danger and that the City of Guntersville had a clear legal right to immunity under the recreational use statutes.