Bits & Pieces

Chaney v. Martin


2020 WL 114632

Unpublished opinion. See KY ST RCP Rule 76.28(4) before citing.
Court of Appeals of Kentucky.
NO. 2018-CA-001229-MR
ACTION NO. 15-CI-00078
Attorneys and Law Firms
BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: Kevin W. Johnson, Hazard, Kentucky, Matthew L. Bowling, Hazard, Kentucky, ORAL ARGUMENT FOR APPELLANT: Matthew L. Bowling, Hazard, Kentucky
BRIEF AND ORAL ARGUMENT FOR APPELLEE: Ralph E. Burnham, Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky

*1 Danny M. Chaney brings this appeal from a June 19, 2018, summary judgment dismissing his negligence claim. We affirm.

On October 8, 2014, Chaney and Bradford Martin were involved in a motor vehicle accident in Floyd County, Kentucky. Martin was driving a tractor-trailer and traveling north on U.S. Highway 23 (U.S. 23). U.S. 23 is a four-lane highway with a median. Chaney was stopped on the east side of U.S. 23 at a gas station and then attempted to cross all four lanes of U.S. 23 to get to an entrance to a mobile home park located adjacent to U.S. 23. It is undisputed that Chaney’s vehicle hit Martin’s tractor-trailer on the passenger side of the vehicle near the trailer’s tires.

On February 3, 2015, Martin filed a complaint in the Floyd Circuit Court against, inter alios, Chaney. Martin alleged that Chaney negligently drove his vehicle and caused the motor vehicle accident on October 8, 2014. Martin claimed that as a result of the accident he suffered bodily injury, loss of earning capacity, property damage, and mental anguish.

An answer was filed, and Chaney subsequently filed a counterclaim against Martin. Chaney asserted that Martin negligently operated the tractor-trailer causing the motor vehicle accident. Chaney sought damages for medical expenses, lost wages, permanent impairment, and pain and suffering. The parties eventually reached a settlement concerning the claims advanced in Martin’s complaint, and these claims were dismissed by agreed order. The parties did not reach an agreement as to the counterclaims asserted by Chaney.

Thereafter, Martin filed a motion for summary judgment. In the motion, Martin argued:
1. This case involves an accident in which Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff, Mr. Chaney, literally drove into the side of the trailer of a coal truck being operated by Mr. Martin as Mr. Martin proceeded down U.S. 23.
2. Mr. Chaney did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident, was not wearing a seat belt, and a toxicology report revealed he was under the influence of Tramadol, methamphetamine, and Benadryl.
3. The Prestonsburg Police Department attributed Mr. Chaney’s distraction and inattention as to the contributing human factors to the accident. No human factors on behalf of Mr. Martin were listed as contributing to the accident.
4. All three independent witnesses to the accident attributed the cause of the accident to Mr. Chaney.
5. Mr. Chaney has no recollection of the accident.
6. Mr. Chaney’s expert, Ken Agent, has specifically testified that he was not asked to give a liability opinion in this case, and that he was simply asked to determine the “sequence of events.”
7. Mr. Agent’s report and testimony placed no fault upon Mr. Martin for the accident.
8. Accordingly, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Chaney, no reasonable juror could conclude that Mr. Martin was negligent in any way or that any alleged negligence led to the accident at issue.
Motion for Summary Judgment at 1-2. Chaney responded that there existed material issues of fact as to whether Martin was partly negligent in causing the accident, thus precluding summary judgment. By order entered June 19, 2018, the circuit court granted the motion and rendered summary judgment in favor of Martin. This appeal follows.

*2 Chaney contends that the circuit court committed error by rendering summary judgment in favor of Martin. In particular, Chaney maintains that Martin’s statements, as recorded in the police report, create a material issue of fact as to the cause of the accident. In the police report, Chaney points out that Martin acknowledged that he visualized Chaney’s vehicle pulling onto U.S. 23, but Martin believed that Chaney was merely turning north on U.S. 23 rather than crossing it. According to the police report, when Martin realized Chaney’s vehicle was attempting to cross U.S. 23, Martin stated that he was unable to avoid Chaney’s vehicle. Chaney maintains that Martin’s statements to police create a material issue of fact as to whether Martin “had the opportunity and the ability to avoid the accident.” Chaney’s Brief at 6.

Summary judgment is proper where there exists no material issue of fact and movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure 56; Steelvest, Inc. v. Scansteel Service Center, Inc., 807 S.W.2d 476 (Ky. 1991). All facts and inferences therefrom are to be viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Id. Our review proceeds accordingly.

In this case, it was undisputed that Chaney’s vehicle hit the left side of Martin’s trailer near the trailer’s tires. At the time of the collision, Martin was traveling north bound on U.S. 23 in the left lane and was not speeding. Chaney was attempting to cross all four lanes of U.S. 23 to access a side road and hit the side of Martin’s trailer. The police report indicates that Chaney’s distraction and failure to yield the right-of-way precipitated the accident. The police report also stated that Martin observed Chaney leave a gas station, enter U.S. 23, and “when [Martin] realized [Chaney] was attempting to cross the highway instead of turning onto it [Martin] was unable to avoid [Chaney].” Additionally, Chaney tested positive for prescription pain medication (even though he possessed no such prescription) and methamphetamine. He was driving without a valid driver’s license, as his had been revoked for driving under the influence (DUI).

Viewing all the facts in a light most favorable to Chaney, we agree with the circuit court that Chaney failed to present any facts demonstrating that Martin breached a duty of care and that such breach was a substantial factor in causing the accident. See CertainTeed Corp. v. Dexter, 330 S.W.3d 64, 77 (Ky. 2010). Simply stated, the facts clearly demonstrate that Chaney failed to use ordinary care in the operation of his vehicle and that Chaney’s negligence solely caused the accident. In sum, we are of the opinion that the circuit court properly rendered summary judgment in favor of Martin.

For the foregoing reasons, the summary judgment of the Floyd Circuit Court is affirmed.

All Citations
Not Reported in S.W. Rptr., 2020 WL 114632

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