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Ex parte Jackson County Bd. of Educ.

Supreme Court of Alabama

September 26, 2014

Ex parte Jackson County Board of Education In re: D.C. Pruett Contracting Company, Inc.
v.
Jackson County Board of Education

Released for Publication June 10, 2015.

Jackson Circuit Court, CV-13-900315. Jenifer C. Holt, Trial Judge.

PETITION GRANTED; WRIT ISSUED.

For Petitioner: James E. Turnbach of Turnbach, Warren, Lloyd, Frederick & Smith, PC, Gadsden.

For Respondent: Gary W. Lackey of The Lackey Law Firm, Scottsboro.

STUART, Justice. Bolin, Parker, Main, Wise, and Bryan, JJ., concur. Murdock and Shaw, JJ., concur in the result. Moore, C.J., dissents.

OPINION

Page 533

PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

STUART, Justice.

The Jackson County Board of Education (" the Board" ) petitions this Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Jackson Circuit Court to enter an order dismissing the complaint of D.C. Pruett Contracting Company, Inc. (" Pruett Contracting" ), on the ground of sovereign immunity. We grant the petition and issue the writ.

Facts and Procedural History

On April 25, 2012, Pruett Contracting submitted to the Board a proposal for renovations to the Pisgah High School gymnasium. On April 30, 2012, Kenneth Harding, the Jackson County superintendent of education, executed a purchase order authorizing Pruett Contracting to make certain renovations to the gymnasium, totaling $231,309. Pruett Contracting began renovating the gymnasium. On June 8, 2012, Harding received a letter from the State of Alabama Building Commission stating that " all work on the renovation of the Pisgah High School gymnasium [was] to stop immediately" because the project had not been submitted to or approved by the Building Commission. On June 20, 2012, the Board instructed Pruett Contracting to cease all work on the gymnasium. On July 22, 2012, Pruett Contracting submitted an invoice to the Board for $91,268, representing the work that had been performed.

On December 19, 2013, because it had not received payment for the work it had performed in renovating the gymnasium, Pruett Contracting sued the Board, alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment and seeking recovery of damages on theories of quantum meruit, work and labor done, open account, and account stated. On January 31, 2014, the Board moved the court to dismiss the complaint, arguing that it is entitled to sovereign immunity as to the claims alleged by Pruett Contracting and that the court therefore lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the action. On March 17, 2014, Pruett Contracting responded, arguing that this case involved a protected property interest, that immunity was thus precluded, and that the court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the action. On the same day, Pruett Contracting amended its complaint, naming as additional defendants the members of the Board in their official capacities and Harding in his official capacity as superintendent of education and asked ...


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