Tutor v. Sines

Supreme Court of Alabama

Russell County | No. 1210037 | Feb. 17, 2023

Defendant's Speeding and Mobile Phone Distraction Leads to Affirmed Wantonness Verdict

Jessica Renee Tutor was driving in Alabama when she was involved in a head-on collision that injured passengers Jack Sines and Devan Frazier. Prior to the crash, Tutor was speeding and using her mobile phone despite multiple warnings from her passengers. Subsequently, Sines and Frazier sued Tutor for negligence and wantonness. Although negligence claims were dismissed due to Alabama statutes, Tutor was found guilty of wantonness and significant damages were awarded to the plaintiffs.

Tutor appealed the decision, challenging the testimonies regarding her speed and referencing a previous case, Tolbert v. Tolbert, to argue that the evidence was speculative. However, the court found Tutor's situation distinguishable, as multiple witnesses and evidence confirmed her speeding and mobile phone use. The court emphasized that Tutor's active phone use was a conscious decision, different from mere momentary distractions. Furthermore, her familiarity with the road and the repeated warnings from passengers suggested she was aware of the inherent risks.

Taking all evidence into account, the court affirmed that Tutor's actions could be seen as reckless or with conscious disregard for the safety of others. Consequently, the court upheld the jury's verdict and denied Tutor's appeal for judgment, affirming the initial decision.

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